University of the District of Columbia Law Review


Mark Soler


Abuse of children in state institutions is a longstanding and notorious problem.1 Advocates for children have successfully brought federal civil rights litigation over the past thirty years to protect the lives, safety, and rights of children in jails,2 juvenile detention facilities, 3 and state corrections institutions. 4 In recent years, however, such litigation has become more difficult as a result of enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) 5 and an array of United States Supreme Court decisions. In a number of decisions over the past two decades, the Supreme Court has significantly restricted the rights of prisoners and imposed other obstacles to litigation by inmates. 6 In passing the PLRA, Congress specifically sought to discourage federal civil rights litigation by prisoners, and the definition of "prisoners" includes incarcerated children.

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