2975. In that case, for example, Justice White held that a Nebraska state statute created a liberty interest in a prisoner's shortened prison sentence resulting from "good time credits" that are revocable only for serious misconduct. Id. Where such an interest exists, Wolff sets forth the procedural protections to which prisoners are due.
In Sandin, Chief Justice Rehnquist further explained that, because the state-created liberty interest recognized in Wolff was predicated on Nebraska's statute, subsequent decisions continued that practice, and, over time, the Court intensified its focus on specific statutory language in determining the existence of prisoners' liberty interests. Sandin, U.S. at , 115 S. Ct. at 2297; see Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 96 S. Ct. 2532, 49 L. Ed. 2d 451 (1976) (where inmates challenged transfer to another prison, the Court distinguished Wolff by noting that no state law stripped prison officials' ability to transfer inmates); Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal & Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 11, 99 S. Ct. 2100, 2105-06, 60 L. Ed. 2d 668 (1979) (where statute stated that inmates "shall" be paroled unless one of four conditions were shown, the statute created a legitimate expectation of release that warranted constitutional protection); Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 471-72, 103 S. Ct. 864, 871, 74 L. Ed. 2d 675 (1983) (in evaluating claims of inmates who had been confined to administrative segregation, the Court determined that the state had created a protected liberty interest by issuing prison guidelines with "language of an unmistakably mandatory character"); Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 249-50, 103 S. Ct. 1741, 1747-48, 75 L. Ed. 2d 813 (1983) (based on discretionary language of prison regulation, the Court found that no particular type of hearing was required prior to interstate prisoner transfer); Kentucky Dep't of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 464-65, 109 S. Ct. 1904, 1910-11, 104 L. Ed. 2d 506 (1989) (where a regulation left the exclusion of prison visitors to the prison officials' discretion, the Court found that the regulation did not create a protected liberty interest).
Sandin, however, explicitly renounced the language-parsing methodology which the Court had come to espouse in Hewitt. Sandin, U.S. & n.5, 115 S. Ct. at 2299 & 2300 n.5. Chief Justice Rehnquist observed that "by shifting the focus of the liberty interest to one based on the language of a particular regulation, and not the nature of the deprivation," the Court inadvertently had produced three undesirable results. Id. First, the Court's preoccupation with the wording of prison regulations had "encouraged prisoners to comb regulations in search of mandatory language on which to base entitlements to various state-conferred privileges." Id. This methodology, in turn, led lower courts to find liberty interests to be created through the negative implication of mandatory language. Id. For example, Chief Justice Rehnquist characterized the Ninth Circuit's decision in Sandin --which the Supreme Court overturned--as "inferring from the mandatory directive that a finding of guilt 'shall' be imposed under certain conditions the conclusion that the absence of such conditions prevents a finding of guilt." Id. While this method "may be entirely sensible in the ordinary task of construing a statute defining the rights and remedies available to the general public," the Chief Justice explained, "it is a good deal less sensible in the case of a prison regulation primarily designed to guide correctional officials in the administration of a prison . . . [and] not designed to confer rights on inmates." Id.
Second, the Hewitt methodology "created disincentives for States to codify prison management procedures in the interest of uniform treatment." Id. Finally, "the Hewitt approach had led to the involvement of federal courts in the day-to-day management of prisons, often squandering judicial resources with little off-setting benefit to anyone." Id. Such an undertaking "runs counter to the view expressed in several of our cases that federal courts ought to afford appropriate deference and flexibility to state officials trying to manage a volatile environment." Id. (citations omitted). Such flexibility is particularly "warranted in the fine-tuning of prison life, a common subject of prisoner claims since Hewitt." Id. (citations omitted).
Dissatisfied with both the formulation and the consequences of Hewitt, the Sandin majority opined that "the time had come" to return its focus to the nature of prisoners' liberty deprivation, not the language of prison regulations. Id. at , 115 S. Ct. at 2300. It is the deprivation of liberty which, after all, is the "the real concern undergirding the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause." Id. In the decision's crucial language, the Court wrote that although it continues to
recognize that States may under certain circumstances create liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause . . . these interests will be generally limited to freedom from restraint which, while not exceeding the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force, nonetheless imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.
Id. (internal citations omitted) (emphasis added). Focusing on the nature of Conner's 30-day disciplinary confinement in relation to the "overall incidents of prison life," the Sandin Court concluded that his "discipline in segregated confinement did not present the type of atypical, significant deprivation in which a state might conceivably create a liberty interest." Sandin, U.S. at , 115 S. Ct. at 2301. Although Sandin did not provide detailed guidance for lower courts seeking to apply this new standard, it did note that the Court did "not think a prisoner's subjective expectation [is] dispositive of the liberty interest analysis, [but] it does provide some evidence that the conditions suffered were expected within the contour of the actual sentence imposed." Id. at n.9, 115 S. Ct. at 2301 n.9.
As might be expected, Sandin altered Second Circuit precedent dealing with prisoners' procedural due process claims. Prior to Sandin, the Second Circuit held that a prison inmates's interest in not being placed in SHU constituted a liberty interest that triggered the procedural protections of the Due Process Clause. See, e.g., Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d 496, 499 (2d Cir. 1994); Matiyn v. Henderson, 841 F.2d 31 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 487 U.S. 1220 (1988). After Sandin, however, the Second Circuit recognized that "Sandin may be read as calling into question the continuing viability of our cases holding that New York regulations afford inmates a liberty interest in remaining free from administrative segregation." Rodriguez v. Phillips, 66 F.3d 470, 480 (2d Cir. 1995).
More recently, the Second Circuit further construed Sandin's impact on prisoners' procedural due process claims, and appeared reluctant to abandon completely its reliance on states' statutes and regulations in determining the existence of prisoners' liberty interests. In Frazier v. Coughlin, 81 F.3d 313, 317 (2d Cir. 1996) (per curiam), the Second Circuit relied on a footnote in Sandin stating that the decision "does not technically require us to overrule any holding of this Court," Sandin, U.S. at n.5, 115 S. Ct. at 2300 n.5, to hold that "nothing in Sandin suggests that a protected liberty interest arises in the absence of a particular state regulation or statute that (under Hewitt) would create one." 81 F.3d at 317 (footnote omitted); accord Quartararo v. Catterson, 917 F. Supp. 919, 937 (E.D.N.Y. 1996) ("the Sandin Court suggests that considerations of language remain relevant, although not of itself dispositive"). Accordingly, Frazier announced a two-part standard which prisoners must satisfy to establish a procedural due process claim due to segregated confinement:
To prevail, [plaintiff inmate] must establish both that  the confinement or restraint creates an 'atypical and significant hardship' under Sandin, and that  the state has granted its inmates, by regulation or statute, a protected liberty interest in remaining free from that confinement or restraint.