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Criticism of a PLRA IFP Provisions by Judge Issued in Order

A frustrated U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur issued critical comments about the Prison Litigation Reform Acts (PLRA) filing fee assessment/collection procedures on March 16, 2010.

The order came in a 42U.S.C. §1983 suit by Maurice Sanders. Sanders was suing about things that took place while he was incarcerated at Cook County Jail in Chicago.

Before a court can consider an application for leave to proceed in form pauperis, a printout of the prisoner’s last six months of deposits must be provided. This was problematic in Sanders case because he had been transferred between two or three jails over the past six months.

Once the court finally received all the deposit info from the various jails, it turned out that Sanders had deposited a mere $15 over the six month period. Frustrated by the process required by the PLRA, Judge Shadur called the revised IFP process “impractical and unwieldy.” There is no realistic ways to enforce the restructured statutory procedure, for neither the prison institutions nor the District Court Clerk’s officers have the personnel to monitor and keep track of the dribs and drabs that are required to be paid and received by the PLRA,” the court wrote. In creating the revised IFP process, Judge Shadur said Congress, “acted the role of Dr. Frankenstein.”

See: Sanders v. City of Chicago, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52775 (N.D. Ill. 2010).

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Related legal case

Sanders v. City of Chicago