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Broken Gate? A Study of the PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Past, Present, and Future
Unformatted Document Text:  Broken Gate? District of Oklahoma dismissed a prolific litigator-of-an-inmate for the most recent in a long line of meritless cases (Kuzinski, 1998). His remark on the state of inmate litigation, made in ruling on the case, remains true today, notwithstanding the now decade-old PLRA exhaustion provision. The judge reasoned that the flood of inmate litigation harmed even those with meritorious claims because they “must hope that in the sea of frivolous prisoner complaints, [their] lone, legitimate cry for relief will be heard by a clerk, magistrate or judge grown weary of battling the waves of frivolity” (Kuzinski, 1998, p. 368). In light of the now-stringent and confused PLRA exhaustion requirement, prisoners with meritorious claims can only hope that their complaint survives long enough to even cross the desk of such a judicial decision-maker. At the end of the day, neither proponents nor detractors of the PLRA seem satisfied with its current operation. Simply put, if the PLRA is to be used as a gate- keeper for the federal courts and their busy dockets, someone had better fix the gate. References Ali v. McAnany, W.D.Pa. 06-96E (2006). 27

Authors: Passarelli, Mariah.
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Broken Gate?
District of Oklahoma dismissed a prolific litigator-of-an-inmate for the most recent in a 
long line of meritless cases (Kuzinski, 1998).  His remark on the state of inmate 
litigation, made in ruling on the case, remains true today, notwithstanding the now 
decade-old PLRA exhaustion provision.  
The judge reasoned that the flood of inmate litigation harmed even those with 
meritorious claims because they “must hope that in the sea of frivolous prisoner 
complaints, [their] lone, legitimate cry for relief will be heard by a clerk, magistrate or 
judge grown weary of battling the waves of frivolity” (Kuzinski, 1998, p. 368).  In light 
of the now-stringent and confused PLRA exhaustion requirement, prisoners with 
meritorious claims can only hope that their complaint survives long enough to even cross 
the desk of such a judicial decision-maker.  
At the end of the day, neither proponents nor detractors of the PLRA seem 
satisfied with its current operation.  Simply put, if the PLRA is to be used as a gate-
keeper for the federal courts and their busy dockets, someone had better fix the gate.  
References
Ali v. McAnany, W.D.Pa. 06-96E (2006).
27


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