In today’s generation America is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Americans live in an open-all-night society, where with one click, one can buy groceries, watch a 3D movie, bowl a perfect game, and eat pizza all at two in the morning without ever leaving his or her living room. Therefore, is not a stretch to imagine a single digital device, such as a computer or phone, that could hold thousand, if not, millions of books with topics ranging from comedy, fiction, nonfiction, business, cooking, fitness, etc. But most importantly, and one of the focuses of this Comment, are those digital devices that hold various legal texts. Specifically, texts that inform the reader on legal lingo and procedures, such as how to file a claim with the court, or modern case law dealing with criminal charges. For the general public, access to and the availability of legal information can be displayed on their computer, tablet, gaming systems (e.g. Xbox or PlayStation), or cellphone. Advances in technology makes it so that any device with internet access can provide the user with legal information. However, what effect do advances in technology have on inmates’ legal research while incarcerated in prisons? Part I of this Comment will briefly describe the evolution of prison law libraries from the Bounds and Casey decisions to the present. Part II of this Comment will examine the adequacy of prison law libraries under the Casey decision. Part III of this Comment will answer the question of whether twenty-first century technology helps or hinders an inmate’s access to the court via prison law libraries. Part IV of this Comment will discuss the strength and weakness of twenty-first century digital materials versus standard print materials. Part V of this Comment will brief mention the Author’s inferences regarding jail law libraries. Finally, this Comment will conclude by recommending steps prison officials can take to ensure that their prison law libraries are adequate under the United States Supreme court decision of Casey, and by suggesting that further research be conducted to ensure prisoners are fully using their right to access the courts.
Kelsey Brown, How Twenty-First Century Technology Affects Inmates' Access to Prison Law Libraris in the United States Prison System, 21(1) Marq. Ben & Soc. Welfare L. Rev. 83 (Spring 2020).