McGinnis v. Royster - 410 U.S. 263 (1973)
U.S. Supreme Court
McGinnis v. Royster, 410 U.S. 263 (1973)
McGinnis v. Royster
Argued December 11, 1972
Decided February 21, 1973
410 U.S. 263
Appellees challenge as violative of equal protection § 230(3) of the New York Correction Law, which denies certain state prisoners good time credit toward parole eligibility for the period of their presentence county jail incarceration, whereas those released on bail prior to sentence received under the statute full allowance of good time credit for the entire period of their prison confinement. A three-judge District Court, viewing the good time statutory scheme as primarily aimed at fostering prison discipline, upheld appellees' claim on the ground that there is no rational basis for the statutory distinction between jail and non-jail defendants in awarding good time credit.
Held: Under the New York scheme, good time credit takes into account a prisoner's performance under the program of rehabilitation that is fostered under the state prison system, but not in the county jails, which serve primarily as detention centers. Since the jails have no significant rehabilitation program, a rational basis exists for declining to give good time credit for the pretrial jail-detention period; and the statute will be sustained even if fostering rehabilitation was not necessarily the primary legislative objective, cf. South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U. S. 301, 383 U. S. 331; Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U. S. 471, 397 U. S. 486. Pp. 410 U. S. 268-277.
332 F.Supp. 973, reversed.
POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 410 U. S. 277.