The First Amendment right to petition is deeply intertwined with the other liberties offered by the Bill of Rights. However, the right to petition is still rarely analyzed in the legal world. This already difficult topic has become even more muddled in the prison system. Although the Prison Litigation Reform Act sought both to help prisoners and reduce the abundance of inmate lawsuits, inmate grievance processes actually suffocate the right to petition in prisons, sometimes going so far as to create a culture that offers barely any First Amendment protection. The Seventh Circuit's decision in Dobbey v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections illustrates the problem. Since little guidance has been offered as to how the right should be construed, a circuit split has developed over the breadth of the right. This Note argues the right to petition must be broad for inmates because prison grievance systems have proven unable to provide satisfactory in-house resolution of inmate claims.
Ashley M. Belich,
Dobbey v. Illinois Department of Corrections: A Small Piece of a Growing Policy Puzzle,
Seventh Circuit Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/seventhcircuitreview/vol5/iss1/8