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40 Attorneys General Ask Congress to Retain Vital Provisions of Prisoner Litigation Reform Act


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has joined 39 other attorneys general in asking members of Congress to retain key tools used to eliminate frivolous lawsuits by prisoners.


"The Prisoner Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) was enacted in 1996 to provide relief to a federal court system so over burdened by frivolous prisoner litigation that legitimate cases were delayed for years," said Van Hollen. "What Congress is now considering would eviscerate the tools that had been provided to courts to protect the rights of our citizens."


Forty attorneys general sent a letter this week to Congressman Robert Scott, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security opposing provisions in H.R. 4109 that would eliminate the requirement of a physical injury before an inmate could recover any money in a lawsuit; change the "3-strikes" provision which currently makes an inmate pay court filing fees in total and up front if the inmate has abused the system in the past; and would eliminate the requirement that a prisoner bring any complaint they may have about their confinement to prison authorities first before burdening the court system.


"When prisoners are allowed to flood the court system with frivolous lawsuits, litigation brought by law abiding citizens is given less attention and time by the courts," said Van Hollen.


The most important reason for the passage of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act was to ensure that law abiding citizens who are involved in litigation were given the proper time and attention by the court system.


"The Prison Litigation Reform Act is a proven, effective tool which reduced the number of frivolous prisoner filings by almost 50 percent within one year of its enactment," said Van Hollen. "Current criticisms of the Act can be addressed without defeating the spirit of the law and without sacrificing the benefits it provides to the courts and our citizens."