Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Ruiz v. Estelle
A federal class action lawsuit that twice reached the Supreme Court, Ruiz v. Estelle began in 1972 as a hand-printed inmate complaint and evolved into one of the most important prisoner rights cases in American history. Bitterly contested at every stage, the case pitted jailhouse lawyers and their advocates against one of the most entrenched, well-respected prison establishments in the nation, the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC). The result was a revolution in Texas punishment: a capacious construction program combined with a bureaucratic overhaul of a labor regime handed down from slavery. Yet when Ruiz v. Estelle finally came to a close 30 years after it began, it left behind an uncertain legacy. In the decades before Ruiz , Texas had assembled a uniquely regimented and economical penal system. With its punishment and gang labor traditions rooted in slavery and convict leasing, the state operated plantation prisons that were oriented ...