Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

The Paradox of Prison Conditions Litigation

with 3 comments

Heather Schoenfeld of Northwestern Law has a new article out entitled “Mass Incarceration and the Paradox of Prison Conditions Litigation” (h/t: Legal History Blog). From the abstract:

In this article I examine how prison conditions litigation in the 1970s, as an outgrowth of the civil rights movement, inadvertently contributed to the rise of mass incarceration in the United States. Using Florida as a case study, I detail how prison conditions litigation that aimed to reduce incarceration was translated in the political arena as a court order to build prisons. … The findings suggest how “successful” court challenges for institutional change can have long-term outcomes that are contrary to social justice goals. The paradox of prison litigation is especially compelling because inmates’ lawyers were specifically concerned about racial injustice, yet mass incarceration is arguably the greatest obstacle to racial equality in the twenty-first century.

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Written by sara

February 11, 2011 at 12:29 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Legal Lawyer, Prison Law Blog. Prison Law Blog said: The Paradox of Prison Conditions Litigation http://wp.me/pMBWB-Id […]

  2. There was another piece arguing that prison litigation leads to unsavory results – trying to remember the citation. It was an economic calculation of the impact of population reduction orders. Turns out, these tend to be costly for the state systems, and the result is less money for welfare. Sigh.

    Hadar Aviram

    February 15, 2011 at 8:51 am

  3. I thought this article was great. Josh Guetzkow is also working on the connection between prison litigation and overcrowding, but he’s using state-level quantitative data. It should be a nice compliment to Heather’s work.

    Hadar, I think this is the article you were thinking of: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15535
    “Intended and Unintended Consequences of Prison Reform” by Boylan and Mocan.

    It’s also a great piece.

    Michelle Phelps

    February 22, 2011 at 7:41 am


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