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California Prison Law Libraries Survive

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) stipulated to ending its motion under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) [18 USC §3262(b) et seq.] to terminate a 1976 consent decree which mandates prison law libraries in CDC prisons. In August 2002, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals reversed the district court's grant of CDC's motion that terminated prospective relief of earlier consent decrees beginning in 1970 (Gilmore v. Lynch, 319 F. Supp. 105 (N.D. Cal. 1970)). The district court was ordered to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the earlier decree was still necessary and whether it was sufficiently narrowly tailored. See: Gilmore v. California, 220 F.3d 987 (9th Cir. 2000) [ PLN , Feb. 2001.]

On remand, the district court had scheduled a case management conference for May 3, 2002. However, on April 16, 2002, the parties entered into a court approved stipulation to take the matter off calendar, while allowing CDC to consider what, if any, future changes in the law libraries it might seek.

"After informal negotiation between the parties, the CDC now recognizes that it needs additional time to determine the efficacy of various options to provide adequate law library resources. The CDC needs to review budget numbers and examine technology issues. As a result, the CDC has decided not to renew the motion to terminate at this time. Although no further motion to terminate or modify is currently contemplated, the CDC may decide to bring such a motion at a future date. The CDC will continue to study the issues and will notify plaintiff's counsel at least 60 days before any motion to terminate or modify. No further motions will be filed this year." [Stipulation, p.2]

As a result, all CDC law library collections will continue to be maintained in accordance with the original Gilmore consent decree. See: Gilmore v. California No. C6645878SI (United States District Court, N.D. Cal., April 16, 2002).

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Related legal case

Gilmore v. California