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Prisoners and the Law


Prisoners and the Law is the title of the four volume set by law professor Ira Robbins. First published in 1985 the set is regularly updated, most recently in December of 1994. While many books on prisoner rights give an overview of the applicable case law Robbins does that and much more. Numerous legal scholars, attorneys, judges, prison experts and others have contributed to this set, which allows for authoritative chapters written from different perspectives. It also includes several law review articles from law schools such as Harvard, Yale, etc.  In addition to case law and legal issues the volume also includes policy and philosophical issues such as privatizing prisons, the role of accreditation by the American Correctional Association, prison industries, the future of prison reform, etc. These chapters make the book invaluable for everyone from prison litigants, attorneys, judges, writers, and anyone interested in getting a broad overview of prison issues.

The book begins with an overview of the American prison system, its reliance on incarceration, the evolution of prisoner rights, correctional developments, resolving prisoner grievances out of court, modification of consent decrees and an overview of the law on prisoners' rights and means of enforcement. The first volume also deals with the litigation and enforcement of prisoners' rights broken down by amendment (i.e. first amendment, fourth amendment, etc.) and discussions of procedural due process, overcrowding, excessive force, death row conditions, parole, pardon and clemency, the rights of parolees and legal liabilities of prison officials. One section deals specifically with the procedural aspects of prisoner litigation, such as the role of magistrate judges, the provision of counsel and obtaining witnesses in prison cases.

The second volume focuses of habeas corpus litigation. Ample discussion is given to the doctrine of habeas and challenges to the duration (as opposed to the conditions) of confinement. Each aspect of habeas litigation is discussed with a special section of habeas law for death penalty cases.

The book also has a very interesting section on ASpecial Issues and Problemwhich discusses the rights of gay prisoners, AIDS in jails and prison, blood testing prisoners, epidemic disease behind bars, the legal aspects of prison riots, inmate welfare funds, jail litigation, disenfranchisement of prisoners and ex-cons, the rights of deaf prisoners, the rights of women prisoners and the rights of Native American prisoners.

The remaining volumes discuss the future of prison reform and include large appendixes on prisoner assistance directories, prisoner litigation status reports, statistics, etc. If your library on prison litigation will include only one book it should be this one.  Highly recommended. The book is available from: Clark, Boardman, Callaghan, 155 Pfinsten Rd. Deer field, IL. 60015-4998. The price is $450.00, plus shipping & handling

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