Before the mid-1960's, the federal courts frequently invoked the "hands-off" doctrine, a rule of deference to state correctional administrators, when petitioned by inmates to review conditions in state jails and prisons. When applied, the doctrine essentially held that a state prisoner's grievance was beyond the scope of authority or competence ofthe federal judiciary. With an increasing realization during the late 1960's and early 1970's that federal court intervention into state prison matters would be necessary, the 42 U.S.C. § 19831 civil rights complaint became the leading tool for effecting change in the area of prisoners rights. In order to gain a current perspective concerning the enormous volume of prison litigation and the changing role the federal judiciary has taken in this field during the past decade, this note will attempt to coalesce modem trends concerning the procedural as well as the substantive aspects of bringing and defending such actions. Omitted from this discussion, except where necessary, are the subjects of access to the courts and first amendment claims.
Scott D. Anderson, Theodore I. Brenner, Vera Duke, James E. Gray & Ronald M. Maupin,
A Review of Prisoners' Rights Litigation under 42 U .S.C . §1983,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol11/iss4/7