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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76377 Find in a Library
Title: Complex Enforcement - Unconstitutional Prison Conditions
Journal: Harvard Law Review  Volume:94  Issue:3  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:626-646
Author(s): Anonymous
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 21
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Systemic enforcement of the eighth amendment in prison condition cases is examined to compare the contrasting forms of complex enforcement and discrete adjudication.
Abstract: The essential character of discrete adjudication -- the application of legal norms to particular instances of wrongdoing -- is sketched, using recent Supreme Court prison cases as examples, and attention is given to numerous lower court cases in which the remedy ordered reflects the central tendency of complex enforcement to probe deeply and to criticize and reorder prison conditions formerly viewed as mere 'background' for discrete violations. This tendency is illustrated by a discussion of the judicial restructuring of two aspects of prison life: inmate safety and health. Generalizing from these examples, it is shown how complex enforcement, by transforming remedies into substantive norms, develops a conception of systemic wrongfulness far different from that in discrete adjudication. The concluding section of the presentation describes how courts reviewing complex remedies imposed on prisons have drawn back from the full implications of complex enforcement by adopting approaches hostile to the systemic development of the law. It is noted that by generating specific substantive criteria to assess the legality of prisons, complex enforcement could make more concrete the abstract constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Cruel and unusual punishment; Facility conditions; Inmate lawsuits; Inmate personal security; Judicial decision compliance; Judicial decisions; Medical and dental services
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