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

News all news

  • AZ Teen Held in Isolation Commits Suicide After ADOC Ignores Warning From Prison Law Office About Declining Mental Health

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    New evidence shows that a few weeks before a teenager held in solitary confinement at Perryville Prison died in what appears to be an act of suicide, the Arizona Department of Corrections had been specifically warned about her deteriorating mental health and notified that the conditions in which she was being kept likely violated state policy.

  • Two Wardens Retire After Prison Law Office Investigation

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    SACRAMENTO–The wardens at California’s two major women’s prisons have retired amid allegations of pervasive problems at both institutions, including sexual abuse of female inmates at one prison and suicides at the other.    Full Story

    Follow-up:KQED "California Report" Interview With PLO Director On Abuse of Women Prisoners

    Follow-up:Prison Law Office Report on Problems at CCWF

    August 19, 2016   –   From the very top of its former management, CCWF has incubated an institutional culture that permits, condones, and covers up abuse; that allows staff to retaliate against prisoners seeking assistance; and that prevents prisoners from seeking help from entities outside the institution. This corrosive atmosphere of fear and violence stems from a widespread failure of staff to perform the most basic requirements of their jobs.

  • North Dakota: DOJ Changes Course After European Criminal Justice Project Participation

  • Bill to Prohibit California Jails From Eliminating In-Person Visitation Passes Senate

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    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.

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    Follow-up:CA Assembly Passes County Jail In-Person Visitation Bill

    Sacramento, CA The California Assembly passed a bill authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) to prohibit California jails from eliminating in-person visitation.

    SB 1157, the Strengthening Family Connections: In-Person Visitation bill, would preserve visitation
    rights for people in California county jails by requiring facilities that have eliminated or plan to eliminate in-person visitation, to offer in-person visitation. After passing the Assembly 4820 with strong bipartisan support, SB 1157 will head to Governor Brown’s desk following Senate approval of amendments made in 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.

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

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    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

Resources all resources

  • US-European Criminal Justice Program Going Strong

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    Overview:  The US-European Criminal Justice Innovation Program is working to bring 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.

    North Dakota: DOJ Changes Course: Pilot Program is a Success

    Hawaii:  The Work Begins with First Task Force Meeting

    North Dakota: Judge Learns Valuable Lesson in Norway

    Project Photo Gallery.

  • SB260/SB261 Youthful Offender Parole Guide

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    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

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    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.