S. 2332 (105th): Crime Doesn’t Pay Prison Act

105th Congress, 1997–1998. Text as of Jul 21, 1998 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

S 2332 IS

105th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2332

To limit the ability of prisoners to challenge prison conditions.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

July 21, 1998

Mr. FAIRCLOTH introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To limit the ability of prisoners to challenge prison conditions.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Crime Doesn’t Pay Prison Act’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) FINDINGS- Congress finds the following:

      (1) The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prison conditions; only those deprivations denying the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an eighth amendment violation. Wilson v. Seiter, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271, (1991) (citing Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337 (1981)).

      (2) An inmate should not be able to successfully challenge conditions of confinement of an institution unless the inmate establishes both that the condition is contrary to the current standards of decency of society and that prison officials are deliberately indifferent to the plight of the inmate. Wilson v. Seiter, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271 (1991).

      (3) Expenditures on prisons in excess of levels necessary to meet constitutionally mandated conditions of confinement increase the cost of building and administering institutions, thereby diverting funds which could be used to expand current prison capacity throughout the country. Additional prison beds are desperately needed to stop the early release of repeat and violent offenders due to insufficient prison capacity.

      (4) Public funds that could go to assist the law-abiding poor are being expended to provide facilities and services for inmates at a level exceeding the minimum standard of living for the law-abiding poor and exceeding the conditions mandated by the Constitution.

      (5) There is a need for Congress, on behalf of the people, to express and codify a national standard of minimum decency for prison conditions. Inmates should not be entitled, by virtue of their imprisonment, to live better than law-abiding persons living at the poverty guideline level of income as determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

      (6) Federal courts have been besieged by frivolous litigation brought by inmates incarcerated in institutions. Lacking a legislative expression of the contemporary standards of decency relating to prison conditions, Federal courts have become unduly involved in the micromanagement of correctional facilities, a role for which the Supreme Court recognizes courts are ill-suited and which is better left to the expertise of prison administrators. Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 404-05 (1974).

    (b) PURPOSES- The purposes of this Act are--

      (1) to articulate an objective national standard for measuring the minimum decency of prison conditions;

      (2) to ensure that criminal punishments reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, afford adequate deterrence, and protect the public from further crimes by requiring that inmates do not live better than law-abiding persons living at the poverty level;

      (3) to ensure that State governments are required to spend only that amount necessary to achieve the minimum standard for conditions of confinement mandated by the Constitution; and

      (4) to ensure that Federal courts require only that prison conditions do not constitute the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain due to the deliberate indifference of institutional administrators, such that inmates are deprived of the minimum civilized measure of life’s necessities. Hudson v. McMillan, 117 L. Ed. 2d 156 (1992); Wilson v. Seiter, 115 L. Ed. 2d 271 (1991); Whitely v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312 (1986); Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337 (1981).

SEC. 3. JUDICIAL STANDARDS FOR PRISON CONDITIONS.

    Section 722 of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C. 1988) is amended by adding at the end the following:

    ‘(d)(1) In any action or proceeding challenging conditions of confinement of an institution, a court may not grant any relief unless the conditions challenged constitute the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain due to the deliberate indifference of the administrators of the institution such that inmates are deprived of the minimum civilized measure of life’s necessities.

    ‘(2)(A) If an institution makes a per-inmate expenditure equal to or exceeding the poverty guideline level there is a presumption that the administrators of the institution are not deliberately indifferent to the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain and the deprivation of the minimum civilized measure of life’s necessities, which may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.

    ‘(B) A failure to make a per-inmate expenditure at a level equal to or exceeding the poverty guideline level does not give rise to a presumption that the conditions of confinement of an institution are unconstitutional.

    ‘(3) In this subsection:

      ‘(A) The term ‘conditions of confinement’ means aspects of confinement of an institution, which includes food, shelter, clothing, medical care, goods, services and programs of an institution, but does not include aspects relating to institutional security.

      ‘(B) The term ‘inmate’ means a person committed to the custody of an institution.

      ‘(C) The term ‘institution’ has the meaning given the term in section 721.

      ‘(D) The term ‘per-inmate expenditure’ means the amount equal to the quotient of--

        ‘(i) an institution’s allocated expenditure for providing food, shelter, clothing, medical care, goods, services and programs, excluding costs specifically related to institutional security during the 12-month period preceding the date of the alleged violation; divided by

        ‘(ii) the average number of inmates confined in the institution during that 12-month period.

      ‘(E) The term ‘poverty guideline level’ means the dollar allowance in the poverty guideline for additional family members in the largest households, as established by the Department of Health and Human Services.’.