Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Free Legal Encyclopedia: Child Pornography to Coach » Civil Rights - The Origin Of Federal Civil Rights Laws, Subsequent Legislation, The 1980s And Beyond, Prisoners' Rights

Civil Rights - Prisoners' Rights

claims court federal held

Lawsuits brought by prisoners to recover damages for alleged violations of their civil rights have caused problems in American legal systems. Many of these cases have involved alleged violations by prisons or prison officials against inmates. Although many of these claims have no valid legal basis, some do, so courts must determine, among the thousands of cases that are filed each year, which ones have merit. In response to these claims, Congress enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1932 (2003), which requires prisoners to pay filing fees and restricts the amount of money damages that prisoners can recover.

Prisoners have prevailed on a variety of claims, notwithstanding limitations placed upon their court actions. For example, in Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 118 S. Ct. 1584, 140 L. Ed. 2d 759 (1998), the U.S. Supreme Court reversed an appellate court decision that had imposed a higher BURDEN OF PERSUASION on inmate claims. Similarly, prisoners are periodically successful in claims that prison officials have deprived them of constitutional rights, including due process of law.

However, the majority of claims by inmates fail. For instance, in Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 122 S. Ct. 515, 151 L. Ed. 2d 456 (2001), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a plaintiff held in a halfway house that was operated by a private corporation under a contract with the federal government could not sue the corporation. The plaintiff had sought to bring the case under the rule in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971) (called a Bivens action), which allows for suits against federal officials who have violated the civil rights of plaintiffs. The Court in Malesko held that Bivens actions do not apply the to acts of government agencies or business entities and ruled against the plaintiff.

Civil Rights - Further Readings [next] [back] Civil Rights - The 1980s And Beyond

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

over 11 years ago

The Prison litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is an ill-advised, anti-human rights, and anti-prisoners right act of Congress and I strongly support the American Bar Association's (ABA) February 2007 recommendations to Congress to repeal or amend protions of the PLRA. The ABA issued a report that urges congress to do the right thing. The report began by noting the PLRA, which had far-reaching implications, did not receive in-depth review by congress, but was inserted and approved as a rider omnibus appropriations bill. Many reasons exist that support a need to repeal or amend protions of the PLRA, and this is why the PLRA is of special concern to all who believe in the US constitution.

If you readers value your right to free and full acess to our courts and the right to seek redress of grievances then you must support the rights that prisoners enjoy those same rights.

Lakeith Amir-Sharif,Dir.

Making The Walls Transparent

Texas Chapter (MTWT-TEXAS)