[Controlunittalk] ACTION ALERT - Prison Litigation Reform Act Must be Fixed, Law denies justice to victims
marerob_2000 at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 27 17:28:13 EDT 2008
Prison Litigation Reform Act Must be Fixed, Law denies justice to victims (4/22/2008)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: (202) 675-2312 or media at dcaclu.org Washington, DC The House Judiciarys Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security is scheduled to examine reform of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which was originally passed by Congress in 1996 as a way to stem the tide against what were thought to be frivolous lawsuits by prisoners. Since that time, the law has been used repeatedly to deny justice to victims of rape, assault, religious rights violations and other serious abuses.
PLRA was passed to reduce frivolous lawsuits, not meritorious ones, said ACLU Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy. People who have had their rights violated, including rape victims, have been deprived of having their constitutional claims heard in court, she said.
The House Judiciary Committees subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security is examining potential fixes that could ease some of the worst requirements of the PLRA, including the condition that prisoners suffer a narrowly defined physical injury in order to get compensatory damages. Sexual assault victims, and prisoners who had their right to religious freedom violated have had their cases denied because they were not physically injured.
There are two kinds of walls in American prisons: one that keeps prisoners from escaping, and another that keeps the abuse that happens inside from ever reaching the light of day, said McCurdy. The Prison Litigation Reform Act creates prisons within prisons, except with paperwork instead of locks and administrative hurdles instead of bars. The PLRA gave a blank check to guards and corrections officers, and its time for the prison system to pay the piper. We call on Congress to fix the Prison Litigation Reform Act and to truly reform the prison system in the United States.
Fixes would also address the PLRA requirement that forces prisoners to file a series of grievance forms in order to file a lawsuit, regardless of whether they are mentally ill, illiterate, children, or not physically able to complete the forms.
McCurdy said, Congressional action to remedy the unintended consequences of PLRA is especially critical now with 1 in 100 Americans behind bars, ever-shrinking state budgets, and ever-worsening conditions of confinement. In Californias prisons, for example, a prisoner dies every 6 or 7 days as a result of inadequate medical care. McCurdy added, Americas criminal justice system is in crisis, and PLRA exacerbates an already bad situation.
Jody Kent, public policy coordinator of the ACLUs National Prison Project (NPP) explained that Prisoners are often required to give their paperwork to the very guards who have abused them, leading to intimidation, more abuse and a culture where prisoners stop filing complaints because of the consequences ultimately making life in prison worse. In some cases prison officials have taken advantage of the laws rigid standards by distributing the wrong paperwork or telling inmates the status of their claims only after important deadlines have passed.
Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Judiciary Chairman Representative John Conyers (D-MI) have introduced HR 4109 Prison Abuse Remedies Act, which would make needed improvements to the PLRA.
For more information on PLRA and for a link to ACLUs testimony visit http://www.aclu.org/prison/restrict/32803res20071115.html
The ACLU is working as part of a bi-partisan coalition, called the Coalition to Stop Abuse and Violence Everywhere (SAVE), for more information about the SAVE Coalitions efforts to get the PLRA amended, visit:
Save Coalition Report
The ACLU is working as part of a bi-partisan coalition, called the Coalition to Stop Abuse and Violence Everywhere (SAVE), to ensure the law is fixed so that prisoners' rights may be protected. For more information about the SAVE Coalition's efforts to get the PLRA amended, visit the website at: www.savecoalition.org
Know Your Rights: The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) makes it harder for prisoners to file lawsuits in federal court. This fact sheet outlines the information you need to know before filing a lawsuit.
Testimony on PLRA April 22, 2008 (PDFs)
Stephen Bright, Founder of the Southern Center for Human Rights
Ernie Preate, Former Pennsylvania Attorney General
John Gibbons, Retired 3rd Circuit Judge
Jeanne Woodford, Former Warden of San Quentin Prison
Information on H.R.4109: Prison Abuse Remedies Act of 2007 >>
ACLU's Ninth Circuit amicus brief in Auer v. Donat, et al (5/16/2003)
Brief for Respondents in Miller v. French (10/1/1999)
ACLU Amicus Brief in Johnson, et. al. v. Hadix, et. al. (1/28/1999)
Disparate Advocates Tell Congress to Fix Law That Silences Prisoner Abuse (11/8/2007)
Supreme Court Decision Overturns Draconian Limitations on Prisoner Litigation Imposed by the Sixth Circuit (1/22/2007)
U.S. Must End Torture of Prisoners in America As Well As in Iraq, ACLU Says (5/11/2004)
Court Ruling Allows Inmate to Press Abuse Lawsuit in ACLU Challenge to Restriction on Prisoners' Rights (10/6/2000)
In Yet Another Blow to Judicial Independence, High Court Allows Congress to Limit Prison Litigation (6/19/2000)
ACLU Summary of the 1998-1999 Supreme Court Term (6/24/1999)
Testimony on PLRA - Caroline Fredrickson and Elizabeth Alexander, ACLU (4/22/2008)
Testimony on PLRA - Ernie Preate, Former Pennsylvania Attorney General (4/22/2008)
Testimony on PLRA - Jeanne Woodford, Former Warden of San Quentin Prison (4/22/2008)
Testimony on PLRA - John Gibbons, Retired 3rd Circuit Judge (4/22/2008)
Testimony on PLRA - Stephen Bright, Founder of the Southern Center for Human Rights (4/22/2008)
Testimony by David Keene about the PLRA (11/8/2007)
Testimony by Margo Schlanger on PLRA (11/8/2007)
Testimony by Pat Nolan about PLRA (11/8/2007)
Testimony by the SAVE Coalition about the PLRA (11/8/2007)
Words From Prison: Sexual Abuse in Prison (6/12/2006)
Enduring Abuse: Torture and Cruel Treatment by the United States at Home and Abroad - Executive Summary (4/27/2006)
Dont let these injustices stand. Take action on this issue. Let the voice of victims of prison rape and other abuses be heard. Its time to restore the rule of law to our nations prisons.
Click this link below and send a clear message to congress!
"Be a voice for those who have no voice"
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