As Luck Would Have It: Pollard v. GEO Group’s Extension of the Bivens Remedy Against Private Prison Employees

Michelle Byers

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Imagine   you   are   a   federal   inmate   assigned   to   serve   time   under   the   authority  of  the  Federal  Bureau  of  Prisons  at  a  privately  run  facility  rather   than   a   government‑run   facility.   An   employee   of   the   prison   violates   your   Eighth   Amendment   right   to   be   free   from   cruel   and   unusual   punishment,   and   you   want   to   sue   under   the   Constitution   in   federal   court.   If   you   are   located   anywhere   within   the   Ninth   Circuit,   you   are   entitled   to   a   Bivens   remedy.  If  you  are  located  in  any  other  part  of  the  country,  you  may  not  be   so  lucky.
The   circuits   are   split   on   whether   private   employees   of   federal   prisons   are  acting  under  color  of  federal  law  for  purposes  of  liability  and  whether   state   remedies   that   are   available   to   inmates   adequately   protect   their   constitutional   rights.   This   Comment   argues   that   after   hearing   arguments   on   November   1,   2011,   the   Supreme   Court   ultimately   should   decide   to   adopt   the   Ninth   Circuitʹs   analysis   in   Pollard   v.   GEO   Group:   Individual   employees  of  private  federal  prisons  are  liable  for  constitutional  violations   under   Bivens.   Pollard   properly   applies   Supreme   Court   precedent, adequately protects prisoners’ rights, and promotes fairness among inmates  in  private  and  public  federal  prisons.
46 New Eng. L. Rev. 185

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