a bird and a bottle


Two Updates: A funny take on the E.R.A. and Serious Criticism of the PLRA
March 30, 2007, 8:32 am
Filed under: civil rights, criminal justice, feminism/s & gender, law, news, politics, video

colbert

1.) Colbert on the E.R.A. (can’t embed b/c WordPress isn’t cool enough yet). Choice quote: “The E.R.A. is just going to lead to one thing. Unisex bathrooms. Which means men will be forced to pee sitting down. Well I demand the option to stand. My body, my choice.”

2.) The American Constitution Society releases a policy brief explaining in detail the reasons for amending or getting rid of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), for which I advocated the other day. Here’s a snippet of the brief, which you can download in full here:

But in addition to frivolous or legally insufficient lawsuits, there are, of course, serious cases brought by prisoners: cases involving life-threatening deliberate indifference by authorities to prisoner health and safety; sexual assaults; religious discrimination; retaliation against those who exercise their free speech rights; and so on. When the PLRA was passed, its supporters emphasized, over and over: “[We] do not want to prevent inmates from raising legitimate claims. This legislation will not prevent those claims from being raised. The legislation will, however, go far in preventing inmates from abusing the Federal judicial system.”

Yet “prevent[ing] inmates from raising legitimate claims” is precisely what the PLRA has done in many instances. If the PLRA were successfully “reduc[ing] the quantity and improv[ing] the quality of prisoner suits,” as its supporters intended, one would expect the dramatic decline in filings to be accompanied by a concomitant increase in plaintiffs’ success rates. The evidence is quite the contrary. The shrunken inmate docket is less successful than before the PLRA’s enactment; more cases are dismissed, and fewer settle. An important explanation is that constitutionally meritorious cases are now faced with new and often insurmountable obstacles.

OK, now I’ve got to actually do some work.

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