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Supreme Court to consider when inmates can challenge prison conditions

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday agreed to consider the boundaries of the 1995 Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) [42 USC §1997e text] in a set of cases that will further specify when and how prisoners can bring lawsuits that contest the conditions of prisons. The high court granted to certiorari in Jones v. Bock [6th Cir. opinion, PDF], 05-7058, and Williams v. Overton [6th Cir. opinion, PDF], 05-7142, two Michigan cases in which the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed the prisoner's complaint because the inmate did not comply with, or "exhaust" the prison's internal complaint process.

The cases question the so-called "total exhaustion" rule of the PLRA, holding that a federal court must dismiss the prisoner's entire complaint if there is a single claim that has not been exhausted, even if there are other exhausted claims. The cases have been consolidated for argument and will be heard next term, which begins in October 2006. AP has more. Read the Court's full Order List [PDF text].

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