Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Confronting the Helms Amendment

In the December, 1994, issue of PLN we reported on and analyzed the federal crime bill and discussed one of its components, section 20409, which seeks to limit prisoners ability to challenge prison overcrowding via class action suits. Elizabeth Alexander, Associate Director for Litigation of the National Prison Project, has written an excellent legal analysis of that section of the crime bill. She agrees with PLNs analysis of the amendment to the effect that it does not make any substantive changes to the law governing prison overcrowding actions

The paper discusses the power of federal courts to issue injunctions against overcrowding, class action certification, modifying consent decrees, etc. It also analyzes congressional intent in making the law as well as its practical effects. "Thus the legislative history of the Helms Amendment suggests that its intent was to reinforce existing constitutional standards, not to change them." Any attorney litigating class action or prison overcrowding suits should read Ms. Alexanders paper of the above title. It is available from the NPP, their address is on page 20 of this issue of PLN

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login