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NCJ Number: 120308 Find in a Library
Title: American Prisoners and the Right of Access to the Courts: A Vanishing Concept of Protection (From American Prison: Issues in Research and Policy, P 65-87, 1989, Lynne Goodstein and Doris Layton MacKenzie, eds. -- See NCJ-120304)
Author(s): K C Haas; G P Alpert
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Press
New York, NY 10013
Sale Source: Plenum Press
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter examines prisoners' right of access to the courts and comments on how changes in this area of law may affect research on prisons and on the role of the courts in spurring prison reform.
Abstract: A review of prison policies and practices affecting the right of access to the courts finds that over the past 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has broadened the inmate's right of access to the courts by striking down prison regulations barring the activities of "jailhouse lawyers" and by requiring prison officials to establish reasonably adequate law libraries and legal assistance programs. In the area of procedural and jurisdictional issues, however, inmates have not fared well in recent years, because the Supreme Court has made it increasingly difficult for inmates to obtain full judicial review of their grievances. Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 has been the most effective device for redressing State inmates' grievances. It provides that any person acting under color of State or local law who violates the Federal constitutional or statutory rights of another shall be liable to the injured party. In recent Supreme Court decisions, State inmates have not only been barred from bringing negligence claims to Federal courts under Section 1983, they are not even constitutionally entitled to an adequate State post-deprivation remedy when they have suffered losses of life, liberty, or property at the hands of negligent State or local employees. The implications of this trend for research on the courts and corrections are discussed. 35 references.
Main Term(s): Access to courts; Prisoner's rights
Index Term(s): Access to legal information; Jailhouse lawyers; Legal aid services; US Supreme Court decisions
Note: From Volume 4 in the Law, Society, and Policy series.
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