Criminals are not popular. No politician in recent memory has lost an election for being too tough on crime. In 1996, the Republican Congress and the Democratic President collaborated on two major statutes affecting the legal protections available to criminals. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) modifies the habeas corpus statute in a number of ways, affecting the disposition of federal post-conviction challenges to all criminal convictions, not just those resulting in death sentences. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) addresses lawsuits filed by prisoners challenging the conditions of their confinement. The PLRA covers both suits dealing with the complaints of individual prisoners and suits dealing more broadly with conditions at entire institutions or in prison systems.

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