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

News all news

  • LA Supervisors Vote to Phase Out Pepper Spray in Juvenile Facilities

    In the wake of a scathing report by the Los Angeles Inspector General regarding the rampant misuse of pepper spray against incarcerated children, the Prison Law Office joined dozens of juvenile justice and civil rights organizations to urge the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to phase out the use of pepper spray in all juvenile facilities.  The measure passed unanimously on February 19, 2019.


  • PLO Seeks Justice for People Subjected to Sacramento County’s Unconstitutional Use of Solitary Confinement


    On February 12, 2019, attorneys for people housed in Sacramento County Jails, filed a motion to challenge the  unconstitutional use of solitary confinement for people with serious mental illness and the ongoing lack of access to mental health care.

    “This harm is too serious and too urgent to wait for the normal course of business,” said Margot Mendelson, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, in an interview with The Sacramento Bee.


  • Settlement Reached in Santa Clara County Jail Litigation

    SC Main Jail

    San Jose, CA — After three years of extensive negotiations, the Prison Law Office, Cooley LLP, and the County of Santa Clara, California, have reached a settlement of Chavez v. County of Santa Clara, a class action lawsuit that alleged that some conditions in the County’s jails were unconstitutional.


  • Civil Rights Groups Seek Emergency Court Intervention to Protect the Health and Safety of Immigrants Locked in Federal Prison

    VV ICE bus

    The Prison Law Office, ACLU, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and the law firm of Meyers Nave Riback Silver & Wilson, PLC filed a motion for preliminary injunction on Sept. 5, 2018, in Teneng v. Trump, a federal lawsuit challenging the conditions of confinement for immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a federal prison in Victorville, California. The motion seeks immediate relief from the court, including an order prohibiting ICE from transferring additional immigrants to the prison.


  • PLO, ACLU & Others File Suit Demanding Trump Administration Stop Incarcerating Immigrants in Federal Prisons

    ACLU-August 1, 2018

    LOS ANGELES — The American Civil Liberties Union, Prison Law Office, and Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center filed a lawsuit today against President Trump and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for violating the constitutional rights of immigrants detained at FCI Victorville, a federal prison in Victorville, California.  Full Story

  • “Tender Justice” North Dakota’s New Prison Practice Inspired During 2015 EPP Tour of Norwegian Prisons


    Terry Pullins is on his second tour in the North Dakota prison system. He’s also done time in California. Since he never got farther than the fifth grade, the 40-year-old Pullins has spent nearly as much time behind bars as he did in school. But last December brought the most acute punishment he has ever suffered: Pullins lost his daughter in a car accident.

    Most inmates in most prisons endure that sort of grief alone. But Pullins is at the Missouri River Correctional Center near Bismarck, N.D. This is a prison designed as much as possible to imitate life on the outside. The warden and staff rallied around him. “Every day I needed help,” Pullins says. “Those two weeks were rough, but they were there for me. I don’t always feel like I’m in prison. I feel like I’m somewhere bettering myself.”  Full Story




  • Arizona Prison Officials Found in Contempt for Prison Health Care Failures


    On June 22, 2018, the federal court in Parsons v. Ryan issued a scathing order finding Arizona prison officials in contempt of court for the Arizona Department of Correction’s ongoing failure to provide basic health care to the approximately 34,000 people in its custody.  The court also ordered the appointment of independent experts after massive failure of medical care and in the monitoring of ADC’s health care contractor.


  • NDOC Continues To Apply Humane Practices Picked Up During PLO’s EPP Tour

    Fox News – 05/25/18,

    BISMARCk, N.D. – More than 80,000 inmates are placed in solitary confinement every year across the country.

    A study by New York University says solitary confinement is considered harmful to a prisoner’s mental health because it restricts meaningful social contact.http://

  • Alaska Looks to Norway For Better Practices In Their Prisons

    alaskan officials

    KTOO – March 23, 2018,

    A small group of Alaska corrections officers are spending more time getting to know inmates, with a goal of helping them reintegrate in society once they’re released. That’s one of several reforms Alaska officials are drawing from the example of Norway, in making changes to how prisons in the state operate.


  • PLO Reaches Settlement In Class Action Challenging San Bernardino County Jails


    San Bernardino, California (March 28, 2018) –A settlement has been reached in a class action case filed against San Bernardino County regarding the constitutionality of the conditions of confinement in the county jails. Under the settlement county officials have agreed to make improvements in certain areas of jail operations that affect the health and well-being of those who are incarcerated in the county’s jails.


    Follow-up:San Bernardino County settles class action lawsuit alleging jail inmate civil rights violations

    The Sun – March 28, 2018, 

    A Berkeley-based prisoner rights legal office announced Wednesday, March 28, it has settled its class action lawsuit against San Bernardino County and the Sheriff’s Department alleging inmate civil rights violations at county jails.


    Follow-up:Class action jail lawsuit settled as Sheriff’s Department vows series of changes

    Daily Press – 03/28/2018,

    The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit over the conditions of the county’s jails, officials said Wednesday.

Resources all resources

  • The California Prison and Parole Law Handbook

    Updated for 2019, The California Prison and Parole Law Handbook by Heather MacKay and the Prison Law Office is at the printer! Paper copies will be available by mid-February 2019. The chapters are now available for viewing and downloading on this website.

    More info.


  • Proposition 57: CDCR’s New Credit and Early Parole Regulations

    Recently adopted CDCR rules that grant many people additional good conduct and programming credits and allow some people serving terms for nonviolent crimes to be considered for earlier parole. Updated to include new emergency rules effective January 2019 that allow earlier parole consideration for some people serving three-strikes terms for non-violent offenses. The text of the regulations and additional information are available on the CDCR website.

  • US-European Criminal Justice Program Going Strong


    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.

  • Art Gallery


    See our new art gallery provided by incarcerated individuals.

  • Inside Books Project Resource Guide

    Inside Books Project

    Inside Books Project offers a Resource Guide with helpful resources for incarcerated people and their loved ones.  The entire IBP Resource Guide is available as a searchable online resource and as a downloadable PDF.

  • 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.

  • Transgender People in Prison

    stop abuse
  • Youth Offender Parole Guide (SB 260/SB 261/SB 394/AB 1308)

    freedom youth ini

    This Youth Offender Parole Guide provides detailed information about the laws that allow many prisoners to seek early parole for crimes they committed prior to age 26.