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Institutional Litigation in the Post-Chapman World

NCJ Number
New York University Review of Law and Social Change Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: (1983-1984) Pages: 299-321
S N Herman
Date Published
13 pages
This paper discusses the impact the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Rhodes v. Chapman (1981) has had and is likely to have on Federal and State court institutional litigation regarding the scope of judicial review, the scope of the eighth amendment, and the scope and nature of the remedial power.
In 'Chapman,' the Court applied the eighth amendment (ban on cruel and unusual punishment) to general prison conditions and ruled that double celling in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility is neither per se unconstitutional nor unconstitutional in the context of the prison's conditions at the time of the lawsuit. Although the Court's decision for the State is narrow and factually based, it continues to allow and to some degree encourage Federal court review of prison conditions challenged under the eighth amendment. Under 'Chapman,' the scope of the eighth amendment's application to prison conditions apparently extends to the totality of prison conditions apparently extends to the totality of prison conditions rather than to isolated or narrow conditions that prompt inmate complaints. Although no remedies were applied in 'Chapman' since no violations were found, post-Chapman Federal Court remedies for unconstitutional prison conditions have been more restrained. 'Chapman' should not in any way restrain State courts in their efforts to apply State constitutional bans on cruel and unusual punishment to prison conditions and devise remedies sufficient to improve unconstitutional conditions. 131 footnotes.