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Review and Analysis of Prison Litigation Reform Act Court Decisions: Solution or Aggravation?

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 77 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1997) Pages: 405-455
K Bennett; R V Del Carmen
Date Published
51 pages
In response to a dramatic increase in prison litigation, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was enacted by Congress in April 1996 to curtail meritless inmate litigation and restrict remedies for prison condition lawsuits.
Although the PLRA addresses several areas of prison litigation, four sections contain the most litigated provisions. Section 802 specifies appropriate remedies for prison conditions, and Section 803 states lawsuits by inmates with respect to prison conditions may not be brought until available administrative remedies are exhausted. Section 804 identifies procedures for collecting inmate lawsuit fees, while Section 809 indicates the court may revoke earned release or good time credits of Federal inmates if they file malicious or false civil action claims. Constitutional issues associated with the PLRA are considered, including separation of powers, due process, equal protection, right of access to Federal courts, first amendment rights, and double jeopardy. Legal issues raised by the PLRA are examined, such as time of application, retroactivity, and conflict with Federal rules of civil and appellate procedures. A list of PLRA- related court decisions is appended. 83 references and 21 notes