(a) Requirements for Relief. -
(1) Prospective relief. - (A) Prospective relief in any civil
action with respect to prison conditions shall extend no further
than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right of a
particular plaintiff or plaintiffs. The court shall not grant or
approve any prospective relief unless the court finds that such
relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to
correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the least
intrusive means necessary to correct the violation of the Federal
right. The court shall give substantial weight to any adverse
impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice
system caused by the relief.
(B) The court shall not order any prospective relief that
requires or permits a government official to exceed his or her
authority under State or local law or otherwise violates State or
local law, unless -
(i) Federal law requires such relief to be ordered in
violation of State or local law;
(ii) the relief is necessary to correct the violation of a
Federal right; and
(iii) no other relief will correct the violation of the
(C) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the
courts, in exercising their remedial powers, to order the
construction of prisons or the raising of taxes, or to repeal or
detract from otherwise applicable limitations on the remedial
powers of the courts.
(2) Preliminary injunctive relief. - In any civil action with
respect to prison conditions, to the extent otherwise authorized
by law, the court may enter a temporary restraining order or an
order for preliminary injunctive relief. Preliminary injunctive
relief must be narrowly drawn, extend no further than necessary
to correct the harm the court finds requires preliminary relief,
and be the least intrusive means necessary to correct that harm.
The court shall give substantial weight to any adverse impact on
public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system
caused by the preliminary relief and shall respect the principles
of comity set out in paragraph (1)(B) in tailoring any
preliminary relief. Preliminary injunctive relief shall
automatically expire on the date that is 90 days after its entry,
unless the court makes the findings required under subsection
(a)(1) for the entry of prospective relief and makes the order
final before the expiration of the 90-day period.
(3) Prisoner release order. - (A) In any civil action with
respect to prison conditions, no court shall enter a prisoner
release order unless -
(i) a court has previously entered an order for less
intrusive relief that has failed to remedy the deprivation of
the Federal right sought to be remedied through the prisoner
release order; and
(ii) the defendant has had a reasonable amount of time to
comply with the previous court orders.
(B) In any civil action in Federal court with respect to prison
conditions, a prisoner release order shall be entered only by a
three-judge court in accordance with section 2284 of title 28, if
the requirements of subparagraph (E) have been met.
(C) A party seeking a prisoner release order in Federal court
shall file with any request for such relief, a request for a
three-judge court and materials sufficient to demonstrate that
the requirements of subparagraph (A) have been met.
(D) If the requirements under subparagraph (A) have been met, a
Federal judge before whom a civil action with respect to prison
conditions is pending who believes that a prison release order
should be considered may sua sponte request the convening of a
three-judge court to determine whether a prisoner release order
should be entered.
(E) The three-judge court shall enter a prisoner release order
only if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that -
(i) crowding is the primary cause of the violation of a
Federal right; and
(ii) no other relief will remedy the violation of the Federal
(F) Any State or local official including a legislator or unit
of government whose jurisdiction or function includes the
appropriation of funds for the construction, operation, or
maintenance of prison facilities, or the prosecution or custody
of persons who may be released from, or not admitted to, a prison
as a result of a prisoner release order shall have standing to
oppose the imposition or continuation in effect of such relief
and to seek termination of such relief, and shall have the right
to intervene in any proceeding relating to such relief.
(b) Termination of Relief. -
(1) Termination of prospective relief. - (A) In any civil
action with respect to prison conditions in which prospective
relief is ordered, such relief shall be terminable upon the
motion of any party or intervener -
(i) 2 years after the date the court granted or approved the
(ii) 1 year after the date the court has entered an order
denying termination of prospective relief under this paragraph;
(iii) in the case of an order issued on or before the date of
enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 2 years after
such date of enactment.
(B) Nothing in this section shall prevent the parties from
agreeing to terminate or modify relief before the relief is
terminated under subparagraph (A).
(2) Immediate termination of prospective relief. - In any civil
action with respect to prison conditions, a defendant or
intervener shall be entitled to the immediate termination of any
prospective relief if the relief was approved or granted in the
absence of a finding by the court that the relief is narrowly
drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation
of the Federal right, and is the least intrusive means necessary
to correct the violation of the Federal right.
(3) Limitation. - Prospective relief shall not terminate if the
court makes written findings based on the record that prospective
relief remains necessary to correct a current and ongoing
violation of the Federal right, extends no further than necessary
to correct the violation of the Federal right, and that the
prospective relief is narrowly drawn and the least intrusive
means to correct the violation.
(4) Termination or modification of relief. - Nothing in this
section shall prevent any party or intervener from seeking
modification or termination before the relief is terminable under
paragraph (1) or (2), to the extent that modification or
termination would otherwise be legally permissible.
(c) Settlements. -
(1) Consent decrees. - In any civil action with respect to
prison conditions, the court shall not enter or approve a consent
decree unless it complies with the limitations on relief set
forth in subsection (a).
(2) Private settlement agreements. - (A) Nothing in this
section shall preclude parties from entering into a private
settlement agreement that does not comply with the limitations on
relief set forth in subsection (a), if the terms of that
agreement are not subject to court enforcement other than the
reinstatement of the civil proceeding that the agreement settled.
(B) Nothing in this section shall preclude any party claiming
that a private settlement agreement has been breached from
seeking in State court any remedy available under State law.
(d) State Law Remedies. - The limitations on remedies in this
section shall not apply to relief entered by a State court based
solely upon claims arising under State law.
(e) Procedure for Motions Affecting Prospective Relief. -
(1) Generally. - The court shall promptly rule on any motion to
modify or terminate prospective relief in a civil action with
respect to prison conditions. Mandamus shall lie to remedy any
failure to issue a prompt ruling on such a motion.
(2) Automatic stay. - Any motion to modify or terminate
prospective relief made under subsection (b) shall operate as a
stay during the period -
(A)(i) beginning on the 30th day after such motion is filed,
in the case of a motion made under paragraph (1) or (2) of
subsection (b); or
(ii) beginning on the 180th day after such motion is filed,
in the case of a motion made under any other law; and
(B) ending on the date the court enters a final order ruling
on the motion.
(3) Postponement of automatic stay. - The court may postpone
the effective date of an automatic stay specified in subsection
(e)(2)(A) for not more than 60 days for good cause. No
postponement shall be permissible because of general congestion
of the court's calendar.
(4) Order blocking the automatic stay. - Any order staying,
suspending, delaying, or barring the operation of the automatic
stay described in paragraph (2) (other than an order to postpone
the effective date of the automatic stay under paragraph (3))
shall be treated as an order refusing to dissolve or modify an
injunction and shall be appealable pursuant to section 1292(a)(1)
of title 28, United States Code, regardless of how the order is
styled or whether the order is termed a preliminary or a final
(f) Special Masters. -
(1) In general. - (A) In any civil action in a Federal court
with respect to prison conditions, the court may appoint a
special master who shall be disinterested and objective and who
will give due regard to the public safety, to conduct hearings on
the record and prepare proposed findings of fact.
(B) The court shall appoint a special master under this
subsection during the remedial phase of the action only upon a
finding that the remedial phase will be sufficiently complex to
warrant the appointment.
(2) Appointment. - (A) If the court determines that the
appointment of a special master is necessary, the court shall
request that the defendant institution and the plaintiff each
submit a list of not more than 5 persons to serve as a special
(B) Each party shall have the opportunity to remove up to 3
persons from the opposing party's list.
(C) The court shall select the master from the persons
remaining on the list after the operation of subparagraph (B).
(3) Interlocutory appeal. - Any party shall have the right to
an interlocutory appeal of the judge's selection of the special
master under this subsection, on the ground of partiality.
(4) Compensation. - The compensation to be allowed to a special
master under this section shall be based on an hourly rate not
greater than the hourly rate established under section 3006A for
payment of court-appointed counsel, plus costs reasonably
incurred by the special master. Such compensation and costs shall
be paid with funds appropriated to the Judiciary.
(5) Regular review of appointment. - In any civil action with
respect to prison conditions in which a special master is
appointed under this subsection, the court shall review the
appointment of the special master every 6 months to determine
whether the services of the special master continue to be
required under paragraph (1). In no event shall the appointment
of a special master extend beyond the termination of the relief.
(6) Limitations on powers and duties. - A special master
appointed under this subsection -
(A) may be authorized by a court to conduct hearings and
prepare proposed findings of fact, which shall be made on the
(B) shall not make any findings or communications ex parte;
(C) may be authorized by a court to assist in the development
of remedial plans; and
(D) may be removed at any time, but shall be relieved of the
appointment upon the termination of relief.
(g) Definitions. - As used in this section -
(1) the term "consent decree" means any relief entered by the
court that is based in whole or in part upon the consent or
acquiescence of the parties but does not include private
(2) the term "civil action with respect to prison conditions"
means any civil proceeding arising under Federal law with respect
to the conditions of confinement or the effects of actions by
government officials on the lives of persons confined in prison,
but does not include habeas corpus proceedings challenging the
fact or duration of confinement in prison;
(3) the term "prisoner" means any person subject to
incarceration, detention, or admission to any facility who is
accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated
delinquent for, violations of criminal law or the terms and
conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or
(4) the term "prisoner release order" includes any order,
including a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunctive
relief, that has the purpose or effect of reducing or limiting
the prison population, or that directs the release from or
nonadmission of prisoners to a prison;
(5) the term "prison" means any Federal, State, or local
facility that incarcerates or detains juveniles or adults accused
of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for,
violations of criminal law;
(6) the term "private settlement agreement" means an agreement
entered into among the parties that is not subject to judicial
enforcement other than the reinstatement of the civil proceeding
that the agreement settled;
(7) the term "prospective relief" means all relief other than
compensatory monetary damages;
(8) the term "special master" means any person appointed by a
Federal court pursuant to Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure or pursuant to any inherent power of the court to
exercise the powers of a master, regardless of the title or
description given by the court; and
(9) the term "relief" means all relief in any form that may be
granted or approved by the court, and includes consent decrees
but does not include private settlement agreements.