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Abstract

Since the 2013 Amendment was passed, courts have continued to split regarding how to interpret § 1997e(e), but they have failed to consider whether the 2013 Amendment alters the meaning or clarifies Congress’s intentions with respect to § 1997e(e). This Note argues that the 2013 Amendment changes the plain meaning of § 1997e(e) such that it could lead to different outcomes in cases on both sides of the circuit split, ultimately concluding that it shows Congress intended the more restrictive interpretive approach to prevail. This Note further illustrates how the 2013 Amendment fails to adhere to the goals of either the Prison Litigation Reform Act or the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), for which it was designed. Finally, this Note argues that the Supreme Court should clarify whether § 1997e(e) precludes prisoners from seeking compensatory damages for constitutional violations absent physical injury. This Note ultimately recommends that a less restrictive interpretation of § 1997e(e) would best achieve the goals of the PLRA and the PREA.

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