This article examines how the development and status of the rights of incarcerated people is significantly effected by their ability to access the judiciary; specifically the federal judicial system. The relatively recent explosion in the American prison population provided the impetus for researching this topic. The objective was to examine whether this tremendous rise in the number of people incarcerated in U.S. penal facilities had impacted the posture of the rights afforded to these individuals. One conclusion reached was that the rise in the prison population had harshly eroded the right of access to the courts. The exploration of the issue will be conducted by examining the key phases in the development of prisoners’ rights in the United States. A more detailed examination of the present stage and specifically, how it represents a regression in prisoners’ rights due to the detrimental impact it has on an inmate’s ability to access the courts is also addressed.

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The Coventry Law Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1 (May 1998), pp. 10-16