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Litigation continues, California no closer to prison reform

When the courts made rulings in Plata v. Brown and Coleman v. Brown, the orders given from these two cases were supposed to bring relief to those prisoners with serious medical conditions who were not receiving proper treatment in California institutions. But now, more than twelve years later, these cases are still being argued in court, which has affected hundreds -- if not thousands -- of inmates across thirty-three different institutions.

In orders given by the 9th Circuit Court and the Supreme Court, the state was supposed to release 10,000 inmates because of problems with the state’s health care system within prisons. But under the federal Prison Litigation Reform Act, California had the right to terminate the orders handed down by the courts, provided they replied to the courts within a certain window of time. It’s because of this though that has tangled the issue in litigation for years, preventing prison reform from occurring and bringing relief to prisoners who need it.

While a good criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights before and during a trial, some people often wonder who or what protects their rights while they are incarcerated. Some may even wonder if they have any rights at all. As some of you may already know, this is where the Eighth Amendment comes into play. It protects inmates from being denied life’s necessities which, as the cases above pointed out, include providing inmates with appropriate health care.

Though the state has the right to fair litigation just like anyone else, it’s important to point out that the prolonging of litigation could be viewed as a further violation of some prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights. If the state succeeds in getting a stay to the orders, then it’s possible that some inmates could seek legal counsel to see if they have a case for this. After all, no one should have to suffer unnecessarily, even if the courts have deemed that person a criminal.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Procedural Slap Against Calif. in Prison-Reform Case,” Tim Hull, May 28, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results