Reform and Regret: The Story of Federal Judicial Involvement in the Alabama Prison System

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byLarry W. Yackle

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When the deplorable conditions in Alabama's prisons were revealed at trial in 1975, Judge Frank Johnson declared the prison system as a whole to constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment. He then issued an elaborate decree specifying improvements that must bemade to satisfy constitutional standards. In this study, Larry W. Yackle describes the campaign to achieve prison reform in Alabama through constitutional litigation in the federal courts and surveys the process that produced Johnson's decree, and subsequent efforts to enforce his order in the faceof bureaucratic inertia, administrative incompetence, and political demagogy. A decade later, the prisons showed significant physical improvements, but Alabama's resistance to progressive penal policies remained intact and impeded lasting change. Covering the lawyers' strategies, Judge Johnson'screative actions, and the machinations of state and federal officials including the Department of Justice under President Ronald Reagan, this book conveys the frustrating yet effective effort at prison litigation and offers important lessons for other proponents of penal reform across thecountry.

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When the deplorable conditions in Alabama's prisons were revealed at trial in 1975, Judge Frank Johnson declared the prison system as a whole to constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment. He then issued an elaborate decree specifying improvements that must bemade to satisfy constitutional standards. I...

Larry W. Yackle is at University of Boston.

other books by Larry W. Yackle

Reclaiming the Federal Courts
Reclaiming the Federal Courts

Hardcover|Oct 20 1994

$109.58 online$111.95list price
Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 8.82 × 5.83 × 1.06 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195057376

ISBN - 13:9780195057379

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"I cannot think of any group of persons for whom Yackle's story of the Alabama prison case is not a must read. Lawyers will understand the importance and limitations of litigation as a vehicle for social change; judges will learn of the frustration of presiding over institutional reformlitigation; legislators and other public policy makers will see the results of their irresponsible behavior and, hopefully, do better in the future; students and academics will learn how important public policy decisions are made by reacting to crisis, not as a result of long-range planning; and ourlarger society will understand the horror of our prisons in the recent past, reflect on the level of our own civilized behavior and prevent such degradation from happening again."--Alvin J. Bronstein, Executive Director, National Prison Project, ACLU