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INMATE GETS 4 HOURS A WEEK WITH LAW BOOKS

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A halfway house inmate who filed a lawsuit claiming the Department of Corrections was impeding his access to the courts will be allowed to use a law library four hours a week, officials say.

The suit, filed Wednesday, was the latest episode in a dispute over claims that Corrections impedes inmate access to the courts as defined by federal law.Scott McAlister, inspector general for corrections, said inmate Thomas Humphries was given permission to use the law library before the suit was filed.

However, Humphries contended that four hours a week was too little time to pursue his appeal of a 1988 conviction to the Utah Supreme Court.

Humphries, who is housed at the Bonneville Community Correctional Center, also said he had made several requests to use the library before filing the lawsuit, but they had been denied.

He said it was not until he notified Assistant Attorney General Kent Berry, who oversees litigation for Corrections, of the suit that he was given permission to go to the library.

Under a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, state and federal prisons must provide consulting attorneys or a law library to inmates. Contract attorneys are provided for inmates at Utah State Prison.