Protecting the constitutional rights of people behind bars through
advocacy, education and litigation.

News all news

  • US-European Criminal Justice Program Still Going Strong


    The US-European Criminal Justice Innovation Program, funded by Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, hopes to see the innovative and humane approaches to sentencing, diversion, treatment (physical and behavioral health), conditions of confinement, and community reentry systems, practiced by the Norwegian Criminal Justice System, applied here in the US.  Full Story

    Follow-up:The Work Begins: First Task Force Meeting

    The Chief Justice along with members of the public attend the first task force meeting, held at the Hawaii Supreme Court.


  • European Prison Project Trip to Norway

    The view from Bastoy

    In October, 2015, PLO staff partnered with the UCSF Criminal Justice Health Project to lead a delegation of corrections officials and criminal justice policymakers from Hawaii and North Dakota to visit correctional facilities in Norway, and to meet with European criminal justice experts.  photo gallery

    Full Story>

    Follow-up:North Dakota Judge Learns Valuable Lessons on Norway Trip

    Norway Article Docket Magazine_Page_1


    “The correctional system in Norway works. … As a Judge, I have the power to take away a person’s freedom. I have no right to take away their human dignity. For our benefit and security, we should remind those imprisoned of their potential and human dignity. We also need to remind ourselves that they are a part of the community.” Full article in “The Docket”.

  • Bill to prohibit California jails from eliminating in-person visitation passes Senate

    Sacramento, CA – The California Senate approved a bill authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles) to prohibit California jails from eliminating in-person visits. SB 1157, the Strengthening Family Connections: In-Person Visitation bill, would preserve visitation rights for people in California county jails, juvenile facilities, and private facilities by clarifying that video technology cannot replace in-person visits. After passing the Senate 32-6 with bipartisan support, SB 1157 now heads to the Assembly.


  • Phoenix New Times Article Features Prison Law Office Lawsuit Against Arizona Department of Corrections

    The May 19, 2016 cover story of the Phoenix New Times newspaper features the tragic experience of an Arizona woman who needlessly died due to ADC’s and Corizon’s failure to treat her cervical cancer, and details the problems uncovered by the Parsons v. Ryan lawsuit filed by our office, the ACLU, and other attorneys challenging the state’s broken health care system.

  • Bill to Prohibit Jails From Eliminating In-Person Visits Passes Hurdle

    The Senate Public Safety Committee has approved a  bill that would prohibit California jails from eliminating in-person visitation rights.


  • Attorneys For Arizona Prisoners Ask Federal Court to Enforce Year Old Settlement


    On April 11, 2016, the Prison Law Office and the ACLU National Prison Project filed in federal court in Arizona a motion to enforce the year-old settlement between the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and prisoners in the case of Parsons v. Ryan.  The motion seeks an order requiring ADC to hire more healthcare staff to prevent further injury and death.


  • Alameda County Halts Juvenile Probation Fees

    As a result of efforts by The Prison Law Office and other advocates, thousands of low income Alameda county families will no longer have to pay juvenile probation and public defender fees.


  • Prisoners Sue San Bernardino County Jail

    Prisoners in the San Bernardino County Jail have filed a federal class action lawsuit challenging unconstitutional conditions, including failure to provide basic medical and mental health care, reasonable accommodations for disabilities, and protection from violence by other prisoners


  • California Resolves Long-running Lawsuit Over Youth Prisons

    After 12 years of reform efforts, conditions in California’s Department of Juvenile Justice Facilities  have improved greatly.  As a result, the parties have agreed to end court oversight and monitoring in the Farrell class action lawsuit.


  • Setback for Brown’s Crime Reform Initiative

    On February 24, 2016, a superior court judge blocked the initiative, ruling it was improperly filed.  This means that signatures required to put the initiative on the November ballot cannot be collected. Supporters of the initiative are expected to appeal the ruling.  Even if the appeal is successful, it is not known if the required signatures will be collected to put the initiative on the ballot, or, even if that is done, whether a majority of the voters will approve it at the November 2016 election. The Initiative will not take effect unless and until it overcomes all of these hurdles.  Full Story

    Follow-up:Temporary Repreive Granted by Supreme Court

    Gov. Jerry Brown was allowed to move ahead with his ballot initiative to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early parole, after the California Supreme Court late Friday temporarily stayed a lower court’s ruling blocking the measure.  Full Story



Resources all resources

  • Norwegian Criminal Justice Reform Photo Gallery

    plo tshirt

    In just one year, this pilot program has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to transform correctional culture to the benefit of prisoners, correctional staff, and the communities to which nearly all prisoners will eventually return.  We are now seeking additional Foundation and Philanthropic funding support to extend this high-impact, cost-effective program to state and local jurisdictions across the country interested in engaging in evidence-based system-wide reform. View Gallery

  • SB260/SB261 Youthful Offender Parole Guide

    freedom youth ini

    This Youthful Offender Parole Guide provides detailed information about the laws that allow many prisoners to seek early parole for crimes they committed prior to age 23.  The Guide also has practical tips for convincing the BPH to grant early parole.

  • Art Gallery


    See our new art gallery provided by incarcerated individuals.

  • California State Prisoners Handbook

    CA Prisoners Handbook

    The California State Prisoners Handbook is a unique and valuable resource for prisoners, and their attorneys and advocates. The Handbook discusses in detail the laws governing prisoner rights and the policies and practices of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The 1,100-page Fourth Edition (2008) also includes numerous sample forms and model pleadings. 2014 Supplement Now Available. How to order

  • Inside Books Project Resource Guide

    Inside Books Project

    Inside Books Project offers a Resource Guide with helpful resources targeted to inmates and their loved ones.  The entire IBP Resource Guide is included below both as a searchable online resource and as a downloadable PDF.

  • Proposition 47

    In November, 2014, the voters of California passed Proposition 47, which changes many property and drug-possession offenses to regular misdemeanors.  Learn more by seeing our Information re: Proposition 47.

  • Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook

    Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook

    The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook is a resource for prisoners who wish to file a federal lawsuit addressing poor conditions in prison or abuse by prison staff. It also contains limited general information about the American legal system. This Handbook is available for free to anyone: prisoners, families, friends, activists, lawyers and others.