The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), enacted by Congress in 1996, establishes a separate and unequal system of justice that applies only to prisoners. Under the PLRA, injunctive relief in cases involving prison conditions is both harder to obtain and easier for defendants to terminate than in other cases. The PLRA also imposes strict limits on damages and attorney fees that can be recovered by prisoners whose rights have been violated. Federal courts have largely upheld the PLRA's restrictions, and the reasoning of these decisions is not confined to cases involving prisoners. The PLRA and the court decisions approving it thus stand as a worrisome invitation to Congress to enact similar restrictions on judicial relief for other unpopular and politically powerless minorities.
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