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Legal Rights of Prisoners

Elaboration And Retrenchment

Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s the elaboration of prisoners' rights by the courts was characterized by a move toward retrenchment. This retrenchment was signaled by two significant developments. First, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (1969 to 1986), and especially under William H. Rhenquist (appointed Chief Justice in 1986), grew increasingly unreceptive to the claims of "discrete and insular minorities." Second, the Congress, responding to critics who claimed that the lower courts had moved too far in protecting the rights of inmates, passed the Prison Reform Litigation Act, which restricted inmate access to the courts. While these developments did not return the law to the old and discredited "hands off" era, they did leave the law governing prisoners' rights far more restrictive than the law that governs the constitutional rights of free world citizens.

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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