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Law Students Fight Change In Prison Law

By Peter R. Melnick

Harvard law students yesterday testified against new regulations governing inmates' rights in prison disciplinary actions.

A statement condemning the proposed regulations for "cutting back on prisoners' rights" was released last Friday by the Prison Legal Assistance Project, a group of Law School students, and submitted in testimony at hearings before the state Departments of Correction.

The proposed regulations, which would prohibit prisoners from calling witnesses in their behalf, are an effort to "fill in the gaps where the old rules were silent," Lee Bromberg, general counsel for the Department of Corrections and co-author of the new regulations, said yesterday.

As the regulations now stand, prisoners are permitted to call two witnesses during disciplinary proceedings.


Michael Young, co-director of the student group, said that the department proposed the regulations because "they want to give the discipline boards flexibility to stick the person they want to stick."

The new regulations enlarge the list of prohibited actions, some of which are vague and prone to selective enforcement, Young said. He cited a new rule against malingering as an example.

False Assessment

Bromberg said that Young's assessment of the new regulations is "false," adding that the expansion of the list of violations was an attempt at simplifying the old regulations.

Yesterday's hearing was required by state law before the new regulations could take effect. The hearing was chaired by three of the new regulations' co-authors, all members of the Department of Corrections

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