PROTECT VICTIMS OF PRISON RAPE AND OTHER ABUSES:
Reform the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)
In the past decade, individuals who have been physically and sexually abused, subjected to life-threatening medical mistreatment, denied the ability to practice their religion, and severely mistreated as children have been denied access to relief from federal courts. Why? These individuals were in prison when these violations occurred and the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) imposed insurmountable obstacles to judicial relief. In 1996, Congress enacted the PLRA, which was intended to stem frivolous lawsuits by prisoners, but too often denies justice to victims of rape, assault, religious restrictions, and other rights violations.
Why does it matter that prisoners have the opportunity to have their meritorious claims heard by the federal courts? By keeping constitutional claims out of court, the PLRA places severe limitations on the possibility of challenging and remedying abusive prison conditions through litigation. The PLRA permits unconstitutional prison conditions to fester, preventing courts from fixing the problem when corrections officials are unwilling or unable to do so.
The PLRA's chief sponsor, Senator Orrin Hatch, emphasized at the time of the bill's introduction to Congress that his purpose was not “to prevent inmates from raising legitimate claims.” Yet a decade of experience with the PLRA reveals that it has had precisely that unintended effect. Reform of the PLRA is overdue. The public interest in well-run, safe, and productive prisons is ill-served by limiting transparency provided by the courts. CLICK HERE FOR MORE