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NCJ Number: 84017 Find in a Library
Title: Special Masters - Engineers of Court-Ordered Reform
Journal: Corrections Magazine  Volume:8  Issue:4  Dated:(August 1982)  Pages:6-18
Author(s): M R Levinson
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The role of the special master in effecting court-ordered changes in State correctional facilities is discussed, and the responsibilities of the special master in the State of Texas are explored in detail.
Abstract: In December 1981, U.S. District Court Judge William Justice declared the Texas Department of Corrections unconstitutionally cruel and ordered sweeping changes throughout the correctional system. He appointed a special master to observe, monitor, find fact, and report to the court concerning implementation of the required changes. Eight other States have followed this strategy. Alternatives to the appointment of a special master include direct judicial supervision, putting the prison into receivership and control of the governor, or hiring consultants. Generally, the special master approach is employed where State officials have failed to implement past court orders. In the United States, the first special master appointed in a prison litigation case was in a massive suit brought against Louisiana's Angola Prison in 1971. As expected, special masters are frequently in conflict with prison administrators. In Texas, the special master supervises a staff of 10 and is responsible for achieving compliance with orders focusing on overcrowding, disciplinary procedures, inmates' access to records, and numerous other issues. Questions remain regarding whether the special master approach is cost effective and how much power should be vested in the office. Photographs are provided.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Court orders; Cruel and unusual punishment; Judicial decision compliance; Master (court-appointed); Prisoner's rights; Texas
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