Prison Litigation Reform Act Law and Legal Definition

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is a U.S. federal legislation that was enacted in 1996 to restrict and discourage litigation by prisoners. The PLRA came into force in response to a significant increase in prisoner litigation in the federal courts.

The provisions of the Act fall under two categories:

a. Prospective relief provisions: Directed towards institutional reform injunctive litigation. The act states that federal courts must not grant injunctive relief any greater than what is minimally necessary to correct the violations of law identified by the courts. Further, in shaping the relief, the court must give due weight to the impact of its relief on public safety or the operation of the criminal justice system.

b. Prison litigation provisions: Directed at civil actions brought by prisoners. The PLRA places restrictions on prisoner litigation that are not imposed on any other people who sue for violations of their rights.