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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 69578 Find in a Library
Title: Legal Services and Materials for Line Personnel, Administrators and Offenders in United States Prisons - An Update
Journal: Criminal Justice Review  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(Fall 1979)  Pages:79-96
Author(s): F HolbertCada J A
Editor(s): J A Cada
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 18
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This national prison survey centered on institutional administrators' responses to and perceptions of legal services and materials for themselves, their staffs, and inmates.
Abstract: In March 1977, a survey questionnaire was sent to 329 State prison administrators, with 2 followup mailings, and resulted in a total return of 88 percent, or 290 responding institutions or major units. The questions addressed such issues as institutional compliance with significant court decisions regarding inmate legal services and materials; sources of legal counsel for administrators, line staff, and inmates; and the effects of these variables on the numbers of inmate suits filed and judgments entered in favor of inmates. The high survey return rate showed a keen interest among prison administrators in their own and inmates' rights. Although 50 percent of the administrators felt 'legally unprotected,' no relationship was found between that feeling and sources of legal protection. However, a larger proportion of those feeling 'protected' indicated full-time legal counsel as their source of legal assistance. This pattern was consistent with that for line personnel and guards. Prison administrators were apparently justified in their feeling of legal vulnerability, since 80 percent of the respondents reported suits filed and 20 percent reported judgments made against them which were favorable to inmates. That 12 percent indicated their inmates were not provided law books and materials illustrates the need for improvement in the legal situation for inmates. The availability of law classes to inmates related favorably to winning judgments (while provision of recommended books, hours of library access, and law classes related favorably to the number of suits filed). Access to Legal Aid societies resulted in significant favorable judgments and is highly recommended. Overall, steady progress appears to be occurring in the direction of legal awareness on the part of administrators, staff, and inmates. Self-interest on both sides combined with external court pressures may result in a more just and equitable atmosphere in U.S. prisons. Over 40 references and tabular data are provided. (Author abstract modified).
Index Term(s): Access to legal information; Attitudes; Correctional personnel; Inmate lawsuits; Jailhouse lawyers; Legal aid services; Legal reference services; Legal training; Prisoner's rights; Right to counsel; Surveys
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