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Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders

NCJ Number
New York University Law Review Volume: 81 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 550-630
Margo Schlanger
Date Published
May 2006
80 pages
This paper provides a longitudinal account of jail and prison court order litigation in the 1960s through the 1990s.
This paper demonstrates that injunctive practice affecting prisons and jails did not peak in the 1980s and it did not fade to almost nothing in the 1990s. Even after the profound impact of the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act, injunctions remain a vital part of the system by which the correctional administration is governed. Both the historical trends and current, as well as future situation of injunctive litigation is of far more than academic interest. Public law litigation continues to regulate much government conduct in many jurisdictions. This paper begins by sketching the early history of jail and prison court orders, and then proceeds with a description of the conventional wisdom that institutional reform litigation is declining along with the revisionist claim that institutional reform litigation shows essential continuity with its 1970s incarnation. Part II of the paper sets out changes over time in the amount of court order regulation and discusses those changes’ causes. Lastly, Part III analyzes the changes in the type of injunctive regulation and the litigation process in which orders are obtained.