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Book Review: Constitutional Rights of Prisoners

Fifth edition, is an 804 page book by law professor John Palmer. The book examines the history, evolution and current state of prisoner rights, with extensive case citations. Organized into thirteen chapters Palmer examines the use of force; right to visitation, association, mail and phones; segregation, disciplinary hearings; legal services (this section includes an extensive discussion on jailhouse lawyers); religion; parole; the liability of prison officials; medical care; rehabilitation; conditions of confinement and more.

This book differs from Dan Manville's "Prisoners' Self Help Litigation Manual" in that it does not contain "how to" information on how to actually litigate a case in court, nor does it discuss legal procedure beyond a brief overview of the legal system in general.

The actual discussion of prisoner rights occupies the first 285 pages of the book. In an extremely useful feature, the book reprints all the major U.S. supreme court decisions, with footnotes omitted, relating to prisoner rights issues. Some 58 rulings. This is very convenient, especially to litigants who may not have direct or ready access to a law library with the relevant cases. This feature alone makes the book worth having.

The book also includes the American Bar Association (ABA) standards for the rights of prisoners; ABA standards for criminal justice-legal standards for prisoners; the constitution; the European convention on human rights; European prison rules and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Overall this text is an excellent addition to any library. Cost $43.95.

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