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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 72405 Find in a Library
Title: Federal Courts and Prison Reform
Journal: Indiana Law Journal  Volume:52  Issue:4  Dated:(1977)  Pages:761-767
Author(s): P Baude
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The legal rationale for Federal jurisdiction over inmates' grievances and its practical implications are critiqued.
Abstract: Recent Supreme Court decisions have abandoned the traditional practice of treating the prisoner as a 'slave of the state,' under the sole jurisdiction of a correctional system and more specifically the administration of the prison where the prisoner iis housed. Instead, a humanitarian model has emerged which views the inmate as retaining rights 'not inconsistent with his status as a prisoner or with the legitimate penological objectives of the corrections system.' As yet, however, there is no clear legal definition of a prisoner's status and whether, if retribution and deterrence are legitimate penological objectives, a certain degree of emotional and physical deprivation for inmates is justified. At what point the emotional and physical deprivation of a prison become 'cruel and unusual punishment' has been decided on a case by case basis. This open-ended model for implementing inmate rights through Federal jurisdiction over rights guaranteed citizens in the Constitution has promped the flooding of Federal courts with all manner of inmate grievances. The number of cases reaching the courts has further been increased by the Supreme Court's ruling in Haines v. Kerner, which held that the adequacy of a pro se complaint is to be judged by 'less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.' It is impossible for Federal courts to fulfill the task carved out by Supreme Court decisions with respect to Federal jurisdiction over inmate grievances. There must be a requirement that States establish effective administrative remedies for inmate grievances, which remedies must be exhausted before a Federal court will hear a case. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Community control of police; Critiques; Cruel and unusual punishment; Inmate grievances; Judicial decisions; US Supreme Court
Note: Presented at Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University (NY) on March 10, 1977.
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