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Legal Rights of Prisoners

History Of Prisoners' Rights

The history of the development of the rights of prisoners occurred over three distinct historic periods. The first, and longest lasting, was the period in which the "hands-off doctrine" prevailed. The second was the period of the civil rights era, which saw the evisceration of the hands-off doctrine and the birth of the idea that prisoners could have enforceable rights. The third, and current, period is one of retrenchment. During this period the U.S. Supreme Court, through a series of decisions, has both elaborated upon and diminished the rights of prisoners. In addition, Congress has intervened through the enactment of the Prison Reform Litigation Act (PLRA), a law that severely limits the ability of prisoners to seek vindication of their rights in court.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawLegal Rights of Prisoners - History Of Prisoners' Rights, The Hands-off Period, The Beginnings Of Prisoners' Rights Law—the Civil Rights Era