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Ruiz v. Estelle (1980)

Ruiz v. Estelle is a significant case in U.S. jurisprudence regarding prison reform: It shaped modern-day practice and policy with regard to corrections management, prison reform, and judicial oversight. It was also the first of its kind: Prior to Ruiz, federal courts had avoided involvement in states’ management of their prisons and prisoners. Ruiz continued through appeals and judicial oversight of reform efforts for decades, also spurring congressional lawmaking.

In 1972, inmate David Resendez Ruiz filed a petition against the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) director William J. Estelle, alleging his incarceration conditions violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution. Ruiz’s claim alleged violations of his Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment and his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of law, a right ...

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