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by the National Prison Project

[Editor's Note: In the July, 1996, issue of PLN we reported enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) into law. The PLRA was aimed at substantially reducing prisoners' ability to petition the courts as well as eliminating the courts' power to correct constitutional violations when found. Ironically, since the PLRA's passage in April of this year there has been a veritable explosion of prison litigation as court's interpret its application to pro se prisoner litigation as prison officials across the country rush to vacate long standing consent decrees and injunctions.

Beginning with this issue of PLN we will report all PLRA cases shortly after they are published in order to keep PLN readers better informed on this new and developing area of prison law. To avoid confusion we will generally report PLRA cases as they are published in the advance sheets. Readers are encouraged to keep us posted on unpublished PLRA rulings that may be of interest to a national audience. The following PLRA summary was written by the National Prison Project and is current as of August 29, 1996.]

Since the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was passed on April 26, 1996, there has been considerable activity in the courts and plaintiffs have been contesting the Act's constitutionality with some success. There have been two written decisions holding one particularly objectionable provision unconstitutional, and good orders and opinions have been issued interpreting PLRA to limit its reach. On the other hand, there have been two bad decisions terminating long-standing consent decrees in New York and South Carolina. However, even in these cases, the termination of relief has been stayed.

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