U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Prisoner Petitions in the Federal Courts, 1980-96

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1997
20 pages
J Scalia
Publication Series
Publication Type
This report tracks prisoner petitions through the Federal courts from 1980-1996.
Highlights of this research include the following: (1) Between 1980 and 1996 the number of petitions filed in US district courts by Federal and State inmates increased from 23,230 to 68,235; (2) While the number of petitions filed increased, the rate of filing decreased from 72.7 per 1,000 inmates to 60.5; (3) Fewer than 2 percent of the petitions were adjudicated in favor of the inmate; 62 percent were dismissed; (4) 24 percent of the petitions terminated in US district courts were later appealed; (5) The number of prisoner petitions appealed increased from 3,675 to 17,002; (6) 88 percent of inmates represented themselves on appeal; (7) State inmates initiated 81 percent of all prisoner petitions, most (73 percent) alleging civil rights violation; (8) 21 percent of State inmates under a death sentence had a habeas corpus petition active in the Federal courts during 1995; (9) 74 percent of the petitions filed challenged the constitutionality of the sentence imposed; (10) between 1987 and 1996 the number of petitions by Federal inmates challenging their sentences increased from 1,664 to 9,729; and (11) 43 percent of petitions by Federal inmates challenging the sentence were later appealed. Figures, tables, notes
Date Created: December 28, 2009