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Legal resources for people in prison in New York

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,FL,LA,NY,TN,TX

Focus area/description: What is it?
A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual Tenth Edition (the "JLM Tenth 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 separate Immigration & Consular Access and Texas Supplements. The main volume is about 1288 pages, while the Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is about 116 pages and the Texas Supplement is 408 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. The Texas supplement contains information specific to prisoners navigating the justice process in Texas courts and institutions.

How much does it cost?*
A prior edition of the JLM is available online and can be downloaded for free: http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/jlm/toc/

For prisoners who wish to order a copy: The JLM Tenth Edition main volume is $30. The Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is $5. The Texas Supplement is $20. The books may be ordered together, or each 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 Tenth 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. 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

A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual--Columbia Human Rights Law Review confirmed this listing on June 12, 2015.

Prisoners' Legal Services of New York

41 State Street, Suite M112

Albany, NY 12207


(518) 445-6050 fax

(518) 445-6053 phone

Serves: NY

Focus area/description: Prisoners' Legal Services of New York (PLS) provides free civil legal services to indigent New York state prisoners on issues associated with their conditions of confinement. The decision to assist with any particular case depends on the issue or problem presented, the chance of success, the amount of time and resources necessary to properly assist, the office's resources, staff availability and caseload. PLS is also happy to provide self-help and informational materials to prisoners. If you or a family member have an issue that you believe PLS can assist you with, please feel free to contact their office by mail.
Prisoners' Legal Services regional offices are:

41 State St., Suite M112
Albany NY 12207
518-438-8046 (phone) (518)438-6643 (fax)

114 Prospect St.
Ithaca NY 14850
607-273-2283 (phone) 607-272-9122 (fax)

212 Bridge St., Suite 202
Plattsburgh NY 21901
518-561-3088 (phone), 518-561-3262 (fax)

237 Main St. Suite 1535
Buffalo NY 14203
716-854-1007 (phone) 716-854-1008 (fax)

Prisoners' Legal Services of New York confirmed this listing on June 11, 2015.

Legal Aid Society, Prisoners' Rights Project

199 Water Street, 3rd Floor

New York, NY 10038


(212) 509-8433 fax

(212) 577-3530 phone

Serves: NY

Focus area/description: Advocates for constitutional and humane conditions of confinement for prisoners in the New York City and State correctional systems, with an almost exclusive focus on class action litigation.

Legal Aid Society, Prisoners' Rights Project confirmed this listing on June 04, 2015.

These national resources may also be of help to people in prison in New York:

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: http://www.lewisburgprisonproject.org/prisoners_rights_handbook_2009.pdf

Lewisburg Prison Project, Inc. confirmed this listing on June 15, 2015.

Prison Law Project - Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook

National Lawyers Guild

132 Nassau Street, RM 922

New York, NY 10038


(212) 679-2811 fax

(212) 679-5100 phone

Serves: National

Focus area/description: This Handbook is a resource for prisoners who wish to file a Section 1983 lawsuit in federal court regarding poor conditions in prison and/or abuse by prison staff. It also contains limited information about legal research and the American legal system.

The Handbook is available for free online to anyone: prisoners, lawyers, families, friends, activists and others. To download it, go to: www.jailhouselaw.org. If requesting a Handbook by mail from the National Lawyers Guild, two dollars ($2) is requested, but not necessary, to help cover postage costs. Stamps are accepted.

If you are unable to download the Handbook and would like to receive a copy via mail, please write to:

National Lawyers Guild
132 Nassau Street, RM 922, New York, NY 10038


Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10012

Please note it may take a several weeks to deliver the Handbook due to a shortage of staff and resources. It is usually much faster to download the Handbook from this site and print it yourself.

PLEASE NOTE: This organization does not have the resources to give legal advice or representation, and will not respond to mail regarding these issues. Please send only orders or comments about the JLH itself.

Prison Law Project - Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook confirmed this listing on July 02, 2015.

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?

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