Publication Date



The Proper approach to determine when prisoners have
property interests protected by the Due Process Clause is
currently uncertain. The Supreme Court addressed
prisoners' liberty interests in Sandin v. Conner, but lower
courts have split over whether to apply the Sandin test to
prisoners' property interests. Further complicating
matters, the Supreme Court recently addressed property
interests generally in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales.
There, the Court seemed to add additional hurdles to the
finding of protected property interests: A statute must
clearly indicate that it gives rise to an entitlement; the
entitlement must have an ascertainable monetary value;
and, the entitlement must not arise incidentally from a

routine government function. As with Sandin, whether
Castle Rock applies to prisoners' property interests is
This Note examines the current uncertainty in the law
and argues that courts should apply the Castle Rock
approach to determinations of prisoners' property
interests. Doing so would recognize the fundamental
difference between liberty and property interests and
appropriately align the test for prisoners' property
interests with the test for property interests generally.
Additionally, applying the Castle Rock approach would
sufficiently address prison-specific concerns the Supreme
Court articled in Sandin.