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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 67227 Find in a Library
Title: PRISONERS' RIGHTS - FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE LAW LIBRARIES DENIES INMATES' RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THE COURTS
Journal: KANSAS LAW REVIEW  Volume:26  Dated:(SUMMER 1978)  Pages:636-651
Author(s): I L RUSSELL
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 16
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: CASE LAW IS EXAMINED TO DISCOVER THE NATURE AND LEGAL FOUNDATION OF PRISONERS' RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THE COURTS, AND QUESTIONS ARE RAISED BY THE DISSENTING OPINIONS CONCERNING THE SCOPE AND VALIDITY OF THAT RIGHT.
Abstract: THE HISTORY OF SUCH CASES AND DECISIONS IS TRACED TO THE BOUNDS V. SMITH DECISION, IN WHICH THE SUPREME COURT HELD THAT THE CONSITUTIONAL RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THE COURTS REQUIRES THAT STATES AID INMATES IN FILING MEANINGFUL LEGAL PAPERS BY PROVIDING ACCESS TO ADEQUATE LAW LIBRARIES OR ASSISTANCE FROM PERSONS WITH LEGAL TRAINING. CASE LAW EXAMINED INCLUDE THE 1941 EX PARTE HULL WHICH STRUCK DOWN A PRISON REGULATION PROHIBITING PRISONERS FROM FILING HABEAS CORPUS PETITIONS UNLESS THE PETITIONS WERE APPROVED BY A PRISON OFFICIAL AND THE 1971 YOUNGER V. GILLMORE CASE, WHEREIN A CALIFORNIA PRISON REGULATION THAT EXCLUDED STATE AND FEDERAL REPORTERS AND ANNOTATED CODES FROM THE PRISON LIBRARY WAS HELD TO BE A DENIAL OF PRISONERS' RIGHT OF ACCESS. AN EXAMINATION OF THE OPINIONS OF DISSENTING JUSTICES REVEALS THAT THEY CONSIDER THAT (1) THE CONSTITUTIONAL SOURCE OF THE RIGHT OF ACCESS WAS NOT REVEALED; (2) NO RIGHT EXISTED TO ATTACK AT CONVICTION OF A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION COLLATERALLY, AND THEREFORE, ACCESS TO LEGAL INFORMATION FOR SUCH AN ATTACK WAS UNJUSTIFIED; AND (3) THE ONLY RIGHT TO ACCESS DESERVING AFFIRMATIVE PROTECTION WAS THE RIGHT TO A MEANINGFUL OPPORTUNITY TO PURSUE A STATE-CREATED RIGHT OF APPEAL, AND THEREFORE, NO AFFIRMATIVE DUTY EXISTED TO PROVIDE ACCESS IN NONAPPEAL ACTIONS. TWO OTHER OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED ARE THAT WITHOUT A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OR STATE-CREATED RIGHT OF APPEAL, THE ONLY DUTY OWED INDIGENT PRISONERS IS NOT TO OBSTRUCT THEIR ACCESS TO THE COURT AND TO LIBRARIES. FINALLY, THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE BOUNDS DECISION ARE NOTED, SUCH AS THE NEED TO EVALUATE PRISONER LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AND THE ADEQUACY OF MATERIALS. EXTENSIVE FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED.
Index Term(s): Access to legal information; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Judicial decisions; Libraries; Prisoner's rights; US Supreme Court
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67227

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