Understanding the Prison Litigation Reform Act: Impacts & Responses

Understanding the Prison Litigation Reform Act: Impacts & Responses
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2018-10-24
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Understanding the Prison Litigation Reform Act
Unit 2 Recording: Understanding the Prison Litigation Reform Act
Unit 3 Workbook: Understanding the Prison Litigation Reform Act

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) reshaped correctional litigation by putting into place an all-encompassing grievance procedure that prevents frivolous lawsuits. It ensures that only quality grievances are addressed while controlling the facilities’ use of resources and expenses related to such lawsuits.

Carrie Hill, the Director of the National Center for Jail Operations (NCJO) of the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), is today’s expert to talk about the PLRA’s fundamentals. Carrie is an attorney and national criminal justice consultant who devoted her three-decade career in professional development specializing in the correctional environment. Her expertise in the area of correctional law made her nationally recognized as a top resource in the field.

On today’s course, she will share the effects of the PLRA, as well as case studies that illustrate various aspects surrounding the PLRA. Some of the points she delved into include:

  • An overview discussing the PLRA’s brief history, its goals, and how it’s immediate effects were observed.
  • Case studies that showcase how the PLRA is being enforced by the courts.
  • How the PLRA impacts the agencies, why it is critical to have a grievance system, and how to handle grievances.
  • The importance of imposing timelines when it comes to grievances.
  • The scope, limitations, and the benefits of the PLRA.
  • Utilizing injunctive relief and its conditions.
  • How to deal with awarding damages.
  • The cost of litigation and how indigent inmates can proceed with litigation.
  • Dealing with inmates release due to overcrowding.
  • Responding to medical grievances including medical class action lawsuits.
  • The specifications and computation of attorney’s fees, as well as a case study that details on the definition of the fee.
  • Settling through consent decrees, its conditions, and related concepts.
  • Dissecting the definition of a frivolous lawsuit, the rules that must be observed when filing lawsuits, and the importance of tracking grievances.
  • Appointing special masters, the selection criteria, and the fees involved.
  • During the Q&A, the webinar participants raised their concerns on: 
    • Applying the three strikes rule if there is more than one claim
    • Documenting inmate notifications regarding grievances
    • The HIPAA implications of medical grievances
    • The possibility of the family of an inmate who died during custody filing a lawsuit