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43 Tenn. L. Rev. 275 (1975-1976)
The Impact of Johnson v. Avery on Prison Administration

handle is hein.journals/tenn43 and id is 285 raw text is: THE IMPACT OF JOHNSON V. AVERY ON
Within the past few years students of the legal process have
begun to concern themselves not only with analysis of legal doc-
trines and judicial decisionmaking but also with the outcomes of
the process-the impact of court decisions.' Study of the impact
of decisions is essential to an understanding of (1) the general
usefulness of the law in bringing about societal change and (2) the
anticipated and unanticipated consequences of a specific legal
decision. This paper attempts to perform these functions by ana-
lyzing the impact of one major Supreme Court decision, Johnson
v. Avery,' on prison administration, perhaps the least understood
field of public law.
On February 24, 1969, the United States Supreme Court, in
Johnson v. Avery, took its most important step to date in signifi-
cantly weakening the hands off doctrine that had traditionally
characterized the judicial response to inmate legal grievances.'
The case involved the constitutionality of a Tennessee prison
regulation that provided: No inmate will advise, assist or other-
wise contract to aid another, either with or without a fee, to
prepare Writs or other legal matters . . . . Inmates are forbidden
to set themselves up as practitioners for the purpose of promoting
a business of writing Writs.4
* B.A., Millsaps College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Illinois. Assistant Professor of
Political Science, Rutgers University, Livingston College.
** B.A., M.A., University of Delaware; Instructor of Criminal Justice, University of
1. There are a numbpr of excellent studies of the impact of court decisions. See, e.g.,
THE IMPACT OF SUPREME COURT DECISIONS (T. Becker & M. Feeley eds. 1973) [hereinafter
cited as Becker]; COMPLIANCE AND THE LAW (S. Krislov ed. 1972) [hereinafter cited as
cited as WASBY].
2. 393 U.S. 483 (1969).
3. Indeed, many legal scholars in post-Johnson assessments of increasing judicial
activity in the area of prisoners' rights have been inclined to view the hands off policy,
which holds that the internal affairs of prisons are beyond the scope of court intervention,
as a thing of the past. See, e.g., Hirschkop & Millemann, The Unconstitutionality of
Prison Life, 55 VA. L. REV. 795, 814-34 (1969) [hereinafter cited as Hirschkop]; Goldfarb
& Singer, Redressing Prisoners' Grievances, 39 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 175, 216-30 (1970).
4. 393 U.S. at 494.

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