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This is an engaging descriptive analysis of the campaign to achieve prison reform in Alabama through constitutional litigation in the federal courts. When the deplorable conditions in Alabama's shockingly overcrowded and understaffed prisons were revealed at a trial in 1975, Judge Frank Johnson declared that the prison system as a whole constituted a cruel punishment which was in violation of the eighth amendment. He issued an elaborate decree specifying improvements that were needed to satisfy constitutional standards. By 1988, federal judges had ordered wideranging reforms in the penal systems of thirty-seven states. This book outlines the background against which Judge Johnson acted, the process that produced the decree, and subsequent efforts to enforce his order in the face of bureaucratic inertia, administrative incompetence, and political demagogy.