Court Below: 224 F. 3d 1175 On Writ Of Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Tenth Circuit
Respondent was convicted of rape and related crimes. A few years before his scheduled release, prison officials ordered respondent to participate in a Sexual Abuse Treatment Program (SATP). As part of the program, participating inmates are required to complete and sign an "Admission of Responsibility" form, in which they accept responsibility for the crimes for which they have been sentenced, and complete a sexual history form detailing all prior sexual activities, regardless of whether the activities constitute uncharged criminal offenses. The information obtained from SATP participants is not privileged, and might be used against them in future criminal proceedings. There is no evidence, however, that incriminating information has ever been disclosed under the SATP. Officials informed respondent that if he refused to participate in the SATP, his prison privileges would be reduced, resulting in the automatic curtailment of his visitation rights, earnings, work opportunities, ability to send money to family, canteen expenditures, access to a personal television, and other privileges. He also would be transferred to a potentially more dangerous maximum-security unit. Respondent refused to participate in the SATP on the ground that the required disclosures of his criminal history would violate his Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination. He brought this action for injunctive relief under 42 U. S. C. §1983. The District Court granted him summary judgment. Affirming, the Tenth Circuit held that the compelled self-incrimination prohibited by the Fifth Amendment can be established by penalties that do not constitute deprivations of protected liberty interests under the Due Process Clause; ruled that the automatic reduction in respondent's prison privileges and housing accommodations was such a penalty because of its substantial impact on him; declared that respondent's information would be sufficiently incriminating because an admission of culpability regarding his crime of conviction would create a risk of a perjury prosecution; and concluded that, although the SATP served Kansas' important interests in rehabilitating sex offenders and promoting public safety, those interests could be served without violating the Constitution by treating inmate admissions as privileged or by granting inmates use immunity.
Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.
Justice Kennedy, joined by The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas, concluded that the SATP serves a vital penological purpose, and that offering inmates minimal incentives to participate does not amount to compelled self-incrimination prohibited by the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 4-21.
(a) The SATP is supported by the legitimate penological objective of rehabilitation. The SATP lasts 18 months; involves substantial daily counseling; and helps inmates address sexual addiction, understand the thoughts, feelings, and behavior dynamics that precede their offenses, and develop relapse prevention skills. Pp. 4-7.
(b) The mere fact that Kansas does not offer legal immunity from prosecution based on statements made in the course of the SATP does not render the program invalid. No inmate has ever been charged or prosecuted for any offense based on such information, and there is no contention that the program is a mere subterfuge for the conduct of a criminal investigation. Rather, the refusal to offer use immunity serves two legitimate state interests: (1) The potential for additional punishment reinforces the gravity of the participants' offenses and thereby aids in their rehabilitation; and (2) the State confirms its valid interest in deterrence by keeping open the option to prosecute a particularly dangerous sex offender. Pp. 4-8.
(c) The SATP, and the consequences for nonparticipation in it, do not combine to create a compulsion that encumbers the constitutional right not to incriminate oneself. Pp. 8-20.
(1) The prison context is important in weighing respondent's constitutional claim: A broad range of choices that might infringe constitutional rights in free society fall within the expected conditions of confinement of those lawfully convicted. The limitation on prisoners' privileges and rights also follows from the need to grant necessary authority and capacity to officials to administer the prisons. See, e.g., Turner v. Safley, 482 U. S. 78. The Court's holding in Sandin v. Conner,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kennedy, J.
Justice Kennedy announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas join.
Respondent Robert G. Lile is a convicted sex offender in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections (Department). A few years before respondent was scheduled to re-enter society, Department officials recommended that he enter a prison treatment program so that he would not rape again upon release. While there appears to be some difference of opinion among experts in the field, Kansas officials and officials who administer the United States prison system have made the determination that it is of considerable importance for the program participant to admit having committed the crime for which he is being treated and other past offenses. The first and in many ways most crucial step in the Kansas rehabilitation program thus requires the participant to confront his past crimes so that he can begin to understand his own motivations and weaknesses. As this initial step can be a most difficult one, Kansas offers sex offenders incentives to participate in the program.
Respondent contends this incentive system violates his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Kansas' rehabilitation program, however, serves a vital penological purpose, and offering inmates minimal incentives to participate does not amount to compelled self-incrimination prohibited by the Fifth Amendment.
In 1982, respondent lured a high school student into his car as she was returning home from school. At gunpoint, respondent forced the victim to perform oral sodomy on him and then drove to a field where he raped her. After the sexual assault, the victim went to her school, where, crying and upset, she reported the crime. The police arrested respondent and recovered on his person the weapon he used to facilitate the crime. State v. Lile, 237 Kan. 210, 211-212, 699 P. 2d 456, 457-458 (1985). Although respondent maintained that the sexual intercourse was consensual, a jury convicted him of rape, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated kidnaping. Both the Kansas Supreme Court and a Federal District Court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to sustain respondent's conviction on all charges. See id., at 211, 699 P. 2d at 458; 45 F. Supp. 2d 1157, 1161 (Kan. 1999).
In 1994, a few years before respondent was scheduled to be released, prison officials ordered him to participate in a Sexual Abuse Treatment Program (SATP). As part of the program, participating inmates are required to complete and sign an "Admission of Responsibility" form, in which they discuss and accept responsibility for the crime for which they have been sentenced. Participating inmates also are required to complete a sexual history form, which details all prior sexual activities, regardless of whether such activities constitute uncharged criminal offenses. A polygraph examination is used to verify the accuracy and completeness of the offender's sexual history.
While information obtained from participants advances the SATP's rehabilitative goals, the information is not privileged. Kansas leaves open the possibility that new evidence might be used against sex offenders in future criminal proceedings. In addition, Kansas law requires the SATP staff to report any uncharged sexual offenses involving minors to law enforcement authorities. Although there is no evidence that incriminating information has ever been disclosed under the SATP, the release of information is a possibility.
Department officials informed respondent that if he refused to participate in the SATP, his privilege status would be reduced from Level III to Level I. As part of this reduction, respondent's visitation rights, earnings, work opportunities, ability to send money to family, canteen expenditures, access to a personal television, and other privileges automatically would be curtailed. In addition, respondent would be transferred to a maximum-security unit, where his movement would be more limited, he would be moved from a two-person to a four-person cell, and he would be in a potentially more dangerous environment.
Respondent refused to participate in the SATP on the ground that the required disclosures of his criminal history would violate his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. He brought this action under 42 U. S. C. §1983 against the warden and the secretary of the Department, seeking an injunction to prevent them from withdrawing his prison privileges and transferring him to a different housing unit.
After the parties completed discovery, the United States District Court for the District of Kansas entered summary judgment in respondent's favor. 24 F. Supp. 2d 1152 (1998). The District Court noted that because respondent had testified at trial that his sexual intercourse with the victim was consensual, an acknowledgement of responsibility for the rape on the "Admission of Guilt" form would subject respondent to a possible charge of perjury. Id., 1157. After reviewing the specific loss of privileges and change in conditions of confinement that respondent would face for refusing to incriminate himself, the District Court concluded that these consequences constituted coercion in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed. 224 F. 3d 1175 (2000). It held that the compulsion element of a Fifth Amendment claim can be established by penalties that do not constitute deprivations of protected liberty interests under the Due Process Clause. Id., at 1183. It held that the reduction in prison privileges and housing accommodations was a penalty, both because of its substantial impact on the inmate and because that impact was identical to the punishment imposed by the Department for serious disciplinary infractions. In the Court of Appeals' view, the fact that the sanction was automatic, rather than conditional, supported the conclusion that it constituted compulsion. Moreover, because all SATP files are subject to disclosure by subpoena, and an admission of culpability regarding the crime of conviction would create a risk of a perjury prosecution, the court concluded that the information disclosed by respondent was sufficiently incriminating. Id., at 1180. The Court of Appeals recognized that the Kansas policy served the State's important interests in rehabilitating sex offenders and promoting public safety. It concluded, however, that those interests could be served without violating the Constitution, either by treating the admissions of the inmates as privileged communications or by granting inmates use immunity. Id., at 1192.
We granted the warden's petition for certiorari because the Court of Appeals has held that an important Kansas prison regulation violates the Federal Constitution. 532 U. S. 1018 (2001).
Sex offenders are a serious threat in this Nation. In 1995, an estimated 355,000 rapes and sexual assaults occurred nationwide. U. S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders 1 (1997) (hereinafter Sex Offenses); U. S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States, 1999, Uniform Crime Reports 24 (2000). Between 1980 and 1994, the population of imprisoned sex offenders increased at a faster rate than for any other category of violent crime. See Sex Offenses 18. As in the present case, the victims of sexual assault are most often juveniles. In 1995, for instance, a majority of reported forcible sexual offenses were committed against persons under 18 years of age. University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, Fact Sheet 5; Sex Offenses 24. Nearly 4 in 10 imprisoned violent sex offenders said their victims were 12 or younger. Id., at iii.
When convicted sex offenders re-enter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for a new rape or sexual assault. See Sex Offenses 27; U. S. Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1983, p. 6 (1997). States thus have a vital interest in rehabilitating convicted sex offenders.
Therapists and correctional officers widely agree that clinical rehabilitative programs can enable sex offenders to manage their impulses and in this way reduce recidivism. See U. S. Dept. of Justice, Nat. Institute of Corrections, A Practitioner's Guide to Treating the Incarcerated Male Sex Offender xiii (1988) ("[T]he rate of recidivism of treated sex offenders is fairly consistently estimated to be around 15%," whereas the rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80%. "Even if both of these figures are exaggerated, there would still be a significant difference between treated and untreated individuals"). An important component of those rehabilitation programs requires participants to confront their past and accept responsibility for their misconduct. Id., at 73. "Denial is generally regarded as a main impediment to successful therapy," and "[t]herapists depend on offenders' truthful descriptions of events leading to past offences in order to determine which behaviours need to be targeted in therapy." H. Barbaree, Denial and Minimization Among Sex Offenders: Assessment and Treatment Outcome, 3 Forum on Corrections Research, No. 4, p. 30 (1991). Research indicates that offenders who deny all allegations of sexual abuse are three times more likely to fail in treatment than those who admit even partial complicity. See B. Maletzky & K. McGovern, Treating the Sexual Offender 253-255 (1991).
The critical first step in the Kansas Sexual Abuse Treatment Program (SATP), therefore, is acceptance of responsibility for past offenses. This gives inmates a basis to understand why they are being punished and to identify the traits that cause such a frightening and high risk of recidivism. As part of this first step, Kansas requires each SATP participant to complete an "Admission of Responsibility" form, to fill out a sexual history form discussing their offending behavior, and to discuss their past behavior in individual and group counseling sessions.
The District Court found that the Kansas SATP is a valid "clinical rehabilitative program," supported by a "legitimate penological objective" in rehabilitation. 24 F. Supp. 2d, at 1163. The SATP lasts for 18 months and involves substantial daily counseling. It helps inmates address sexual addiction; understand the thoughts, feelings, and behavior dynamics that precede their offenses; and develop relapse prevention skills. Although inmates are assured of a significant level of confidentiality, Kansas does not offer legal immunity from prosecution based on any statements made in the course of the SATP. According to Kansas, however, no inmate has ever been charged or prosecuted for any offense based on information disclosed during treatment. Brief for Petitioners 4-5. There is no contention, then, that the program is a mere subterfuge for the conduct of a criminal investigation.
As the parties explain, Kansas' decision not to offer immunity to every SATP participant serves two legitimate state interests. First, the professionals who design and conduct the program have concluded that for SATP participants to accept full responsibility for their past actions, they must accept the proposition that those actions carry consequences. Tr. of Oral Arg. 11. Although no program participant has ever been prosecuted or penalized based on information revealed during the SATP, the potential for additional punishment reinforces the gravity of the participants' offenses and thereby aids in their rehabilitation. If inmates know society will not punish them for their past offenses, they may be left with the false impression that society does not consider those crimes to be serious ones. The ...