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U.S. REPORT UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON 
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
JULY 1994


Article 16 - Recognition as a Person Under the Law

All human beings within the jurisdiction of the 
United States are recognized as persons before the 
law.  Slavery and involuntary servitude were 
outlawed in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment to the 
U.S. Constitution, as discussed in greater detail 
under Article 8.  Aliens are granted basic 
constitutional rights and entitled to the protection 
of the courts, as discussed under Articles 2 and 13.

The common law doctrine of civil death, which 
provided that a convicted felon was deprived of 
legal personality and could not perform legal 
functions such as entering into contracts, does not 
exist today, although prisoners sometimes are not 
permitted to vote (see discussion under Article 25).  
Federal and state prisoners enjoy a constitutional 
right of access to the courts.  See McCrary v. 
Maryland, 456 F.2d 1 (4th Cir. 1972); McCuiston v. 
Wanicka, 483 So.2d 489 (Fla. Ct. App. 1986).  
Prisoners frequently file actions in the federal 
courts seeking writs of habeas corpus and suing 
governmental authorities for alleged violations of 
their civil rights under 42 U.S.C.   1983.  
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