AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / March/April 2016 / Volume 20, Number 4

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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MARCH/APRIL 2016 | AALL SPECTRUM 35 I n 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court in Bounds v. Smith affirmed that states must protect the right of prisoners to access the courts by providing them with law libraries or alternative sources of legal knowledge. e court held that "the fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts requires prison authorities to assist inmates in the preparation and filing of meaningful legal papers by providing prisoners with adequate law libraries or adequate assistance from persons trained in the law." Justice Marshall, in Bounds, also noted that law libraries and prison legal-assistance programs were supported by correctional administrators and valued as contributing to rehabilitation. It was determined that more than 80 percent of the state corrections personnel "felt legal services provide a safety valve for inmate griev- ances, reduce inmate power structures and tensions from unresolved RIGHT OF ACCESS How the Minnesota State Law Library is serving inmates. BY DEBORAH HACKERSON FOR PRISONERS Images © iStock.com/nevarpp and radio82.

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