|The context of corrections has been subjected to three powerful
continuing legal trends: 1) Supreme Court decisions that either freeze or
diminish the definition and scope of constitutional rights for prisoners; 2)
statutory enactments that impose significant impediments to prisoners'
access to courts and their use of law to seek remedies for alleged
constitutional violations; and 3) regular occurrences of publicized
incidents in which prisoners endure violations of their legal protections,
including protections against sexual assault and deprivation of medical
care. This paper will evaluate the implications and consequences of these
trends in considering the symbolic and practical effects of law in a
bureaucratic setting that provides a fertile environment for the influence
of the "penal harm" philosophy.
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