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

News all news

  • PA Corrections Sec’y Wetzel Inspired by Trip to German and Dutch Prisons

    The transitional housing units created by Secretary John Wetzel in Pennsylvania were inspired by a Prison Law Office sponsored trip to German and Dutch prisons.  Prisoners sleep in real beds, can dress as they like, cook their own meals, are never locked in solitary for more than eight hours, and get paid real wages for their work so they have some savings when they’re released. German recidivism rate after three years is still 35 percent. But the U.S. recidivism rate, despite our much harsher treatment – is almost twice that.  Full Story.

  • Santa Clara County Sued for Unconstitutional use of Solitary Confinement

    sc pic

    Two people incarcerated in the Santa Clara county jail filed a federal class action lawsuit against Santa Clara County claiming that the use of solitary confinement and other conditions is inhumane and unconstitutional.


  • 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


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

    “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”.

  • Tentative settlement in Riverside jail case

    Riverside inmates 2015

    Prison Law Office has reached a tentative settlement in our class action lawsuit over medical and mental health care and disability discrimination in the Riverside jails.


  • Changes for Fresno County Jail Prisoners


    Fresno County Jail prisoners should soon receive dramatically improved healthcare, disability accommodations, and protection from violence as a result of a settlement agreement filed in federal court.  The Prison Law Office, Cooley LLP, and Disability Rights California filed a class action lawsuit about dangerous jail conditions in 2011, and after extensive litigation and settlement negotiations, agreed on a detailed 22-page Remedial Plan that will address all of the claims in the lawsuit.  Plaintiffs’ Counsel and court experts will monitor the County’s compliance with the Plan for the next four years.

  • Building Awareness of Transgender Inmates

    Prison Law Office has been corresponding with a number of transgender people in California prisons.  We hope to better understand and help advocate for safer conditions.  We will continue to learn from transgender people in prison about issues they are facing and work with them on acknowledging and enforcing their rights under federal law and the Prison Rape Elimination Act national standards.

Resources all resources

  • Governor Brown’s Criminal Justice Reform Proposition

    In late January 2016, Governor Brown announced a criminal just reform initiative.  The measure is called “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016”.  The initiative, if passed could affect thousands of prisoners.

  • SB 261/260: Youthful Offender Parole For Crimes Between Ages 18 and 22

    Senate Bills 260 and 261 provide for an opportunity for youth sentenced to long terms for crimes they committed when they were ages 18 through 22 gain early parole, recognizing that young people deserve a second chance and have a capacity to turn their lives around.

  • 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.