Legal resources for people in prison in District of Columbia

D.C. Prisoners' Project

Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

11 Dupont Circle NW, Suite 400

Washington, D.C. 20036

(202) 319-1010 Fax

(202) 319-1000 General information, no collect calls

(202) 775-0323 Prisoner help line, collect calls accepted

Serves: DC

Focus area/description: The mission of the D.C. Prisoners' Project is to advocate for the humane treatment and dignity of all persons convicted or charged —or formerly convicted— with a criminal offense under District of Columbia law, to assist their family members with prison-related issues, and to encourage progressive criminal justice reform.

The Project’s goals are a) to remedy deficiencies in medical and mental health services; b) to ensure that conditions of confinement are safe and humane, and to prevent acts of violence, sexual assault, and torture; c) to improve the chances for social reintegration of the thousands of D.C. residents returning to D.C. communities after serving a period of incarceration; and d) to support activities to reduce the prison population through advocating alternatives to imprisonment and supporting prevention initiatives.

Our two-member staff, with the support of dozens of volunteers and student interns, provides non-litigation advocacy on conditions of confinement issues to more than one thousand clients a year.

D.C. Prisoners' Project confirmed this listing on July 22, 2013.

These national resources may also be of help to people in prison in District of Columbia:

A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual--Columbia Human Rights Law Review

Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Attn: JLM Order

435 W. 116th St.

New York, NY 10027

(212) 854-1601

Serves: National,NY

Focus area/description: What is it?
A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual Ninth Edition (the "JLM Ninth Edition") explains the legal rights of prisoners, and how to navigate through the justice process to secure those rights. It contains information on how to address legal issues on both the federal level and the state level, with an emphasis on New York State law. The JLM does NOT have information on substantive law (for example, the elements of crimes or degrees of a crime). It is a softcover book that comes in one volume, with a separate Immigration & Consular Access Supplement. The main volume is about 1077 pages, while the Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is about 102 pages. Both books are mailed stamped "direct from publisher."

The main volume of the JLM contains "basic" self-help litigation information, covering legal research, seeking legal representation, choosing a court, and filing a lawsuit, as well as more specific chapters on habeas corpus, parole, DNA, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act. It also contains topics like religious freedom, infectious diseases, mental disabilities, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners. The Immigration & Consular Access Supplement contains information about the immigration law consequences of criminal convictions for people who are not U.S. citizens, and also contains information about your right as a non-U.S. citizen to access your country's consulate if you are charged with a crime.

How much does it cost?*
The JLM is available online and can be downloaded for free:

For prisoners who wish to order a copy: The JLM Ninth Edition main volume is $30. The Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is $5. The books may be ordered together, or either book may be ordered separately. Priority shipping is included in both prices.

For non-inmates, organizations, or institutions that wish to order a copy: The JLM Ninth Edition is $105 for the main volume and $22 for the Immigration & Consular Access Supplement. Priority shipping is included in both prices. If you are ordering for a prisoner, follow the instructions for prisoner pricing. See the pricing chart below. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

Note: Regrettably, the law prohibits us from providing any legal advice to prisoners. As an organization with limited funds, we cannot offer any further discounts nor make any billing arrangements other than listed above. We also do not have used copies to distribute. If you would like to use the JLM but are unable to purchase one, please inquire with your prison library to see if they will order one. We apologize for any inconvenience.

How do I place an order?
Complete and send the order form below with a check or money order, payable to Columbia Human Rights Law Review to:

Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Attn: JLM Order
435 W. 116th St.
New York, NY 10027

If you send a money order, keep the receipt in case there is a problem with your order. We do not accept postage stamps as payment and we also do not accept credit cards. Due to the nature of the institutional mail systems, we request that you allow up to eight weeks from the date of your order. Because our office is student-run, your order may not be processed as quickly over school breaks. Please inform us on this form of any restrictions on incoming mail that your facility may have (for example, no padded envelopes or first class mail only). Please print clearly and legibly!!!


ID NUMBER (If applicable):
ORDER (Please circle the price):* Standard shipping requires 4-6 weeks.
1st Class shipping 1-2 weeks. All prisoner orders are sent via 1st Class Mail

Main Volume 4th class mail Immigration 4th Class Mail Main. Vol. & Immigration Supplement 4th class mail Main Volume 1st class mail Immigration Supplement1st class mail Main. Vol. & Immigration Supplement 1st Class Mail
Prisoner not available not available not available $30 $5 $35
Institution $105 $22 $120 $105 $22 $127

*Please note these prices are valid as of September 2011. If this form is more than one year old, prices may have changed. Please contact the Columbia Human Rights Law Review for updated pricing.

A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual--Columbia Human Rights Law Review confirmed this listing on December 18, 2013.

Lewisburg Prison Project, Inc.

P.O. Box 128

Lewisburg, PA 17837-0128

(570) 523-1104 phone

Serves: National,PA

Focus area/description: The Lewisburg Prison Project (LPP) is a non-profit organization that assists prisoners who write LPP when they encounter treatment they perceive to be illegal or unfair. The Lewisburg Prison Project primarily assists inmates with issues that arise from their conditions of confinement. LPP writes to and visits inmates, and contacts prison authorities on behalf of inmates. The LPP also furnishes inmates with appropriate legal materials. As of 2013, the organization does not have an attorney on staff; therefore, the LPP is not able to give legal advice, file suits, or address criminal or post-conviction cases.

The Lewisburg Prison Project offers a range of low-cost legal bulletins ($1-3, prices subject to change) on specific topics concerning prisoners' rights and legal dictionaries for purchase. Inmates can write to the LPP to request a bulletin order form.

2013 Legal Bulletins include:
1.1 Civil Actions in Federal Court: How to select, file, and follow legal actions.
1.2 Legal Research: Guide to Legal Research.
1.3 Access to Records: How to get your records; privacy.
1.5 Federal Tort Claims Act
1.8 Injunctive Relief
First Amendment
2.1 Religious Rights in Prison
2.3 Speech, Visitation, Association
4.1 Rights of Pretrial Detainees
Due Process in Prison
6.1 Disciplinary Hearings
6.4 Urinalyis Drug Testing
"Cruel and Unusual Punishment": Eighth Amendment
7.1 Assaults and Beatings: Assaults by staff or inmates.
7.3 Conditions of Confinment: Heat, exercise, etc.
Medical Care
8.1 Medical Rights
8.2 Psychiactric and Disability Rights
8.3 Aids in Prison
Post Conviction
9.1 Post-Conviction Remedies
9.2 Detainers: Choices and Strategies
9.3 Pennsylvania Megan's Law: Overview of requirements
9.4 DNA Collection and Testing

The LPP also publishes "Prisoners’ Rights Handbook: A Guide to Correctional Law Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States & the Federal Courts of the Third Circuit," available at:

Lewisburg Prison Project, Inc. confirmed this listing on July 15, 2013.

The ACLU National Prison Project

915 15th St., NW, 7th Floor

Washington, DC 20005

(202) 393-4930 phone

Serves: National

Focus area/description: The NPP provides publications on prisoners’ rights, prisoner assistance organizations, and the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The NPP does not do advocacy for individual prisoners and does not assist individual prisoners with criminal cases. Please do not send any court documents or documents you need returned. Note that wait times for information or publications requested via mail may be very long due to the volume of prisoner correspondence.

The ACLU National Prison Project confirmed this listing on July 31, 2013.

Human Rights Defense Center

Prison Legal News

P.O. Box 1151

Lake Worth, FL 33460 and

(561) 360-2523 phone

Serves: National

Focus area/description: The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) publishes Prison Legal News, a monthly magazine (for incarcerated people, $30/year; for others see website) that reports legal developments and news surrounding prisons and jails and prisoner rights. HRDC also publishes and distributes litigation manuals, law and self help books. HRDC also challenges prison and jail conditions via litigation, typically on free speech issues. For details contact: Prison Legal News, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460, (561) 360-2523,

Human Rights Defense Center confirmed this listing on August 02, 2013.

A challenge to our colleagues:

We built the internet's first always-up-to-date list of legal services for incarcerated people. Can you make a similar list for a different kind of resource?

Problem: There are too many outdated resource lists floating around.

Our Solution: Have one resource list that one organization checks each year.

Our Method: Inspired by the Cincinnati Books for Prisoners group, we made a list of every legal services organization on every resource list we could find. Then we send a letter by snail mail to each organization each year asking them to confirm/update their listing. If they respond, we include them on the site for the next 365 days. All the organization needs to do is to sign the form we send them and mail it back in the enclosed envelope. If they don't respond, we keep them on our mailing list and try again next year.

This way, any incarcerated person using the list can be assured that the organization they are writing to recently did exist and was responding to mail. And if an organization fails to respond for some reason (staff turnover, postal problems, the dog ate our letter, etc.) they get another chance next year.

It's a win for everyone. We've built a database for legal services. What list can your organization edit?