The right to counsel is a fundamental right, one the framers of our Constitution intended to apply to all American citizens. Virginia statutes and case law have protected the rights of incarcerated adults and it is now time to grant those same protections to the juveniles in their custody. Part II of this comment will review the requirement of a prisoner’s right to “meaningful access” to the courts from both an adult and juvenile’s perspective. An examination of jurisprudence from the Supreme Court of the United States, and Circuit Courts, reveals the history and importance of “meaningful access” and shows how different courts have applied the right. Part III will discuss how Virginia has interpreted “meaningful access” in the context of adult prisoners, Senate Bill 585 will also be evaluated and compared to similar statutes in other states. Part IV will discuss how in light of the exposure of sexual abuse in correctional facilities, Senate Bill 585 is critical legislation that could help keep children protected and give a voice to the victims.
Jillian Malizio, Comment, Access Denied: Sexual Victimization of Juveniles in Correctional Facilities -- How Senate Bill 585 Could Have Helped, 14 Rich. J. L. & Pub. Int. 43 (2010).