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Peter Wagner, Executive Director

Legal resources for people in prison in District of Columbia

Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

700 14th St. NW

Ste. 400

Washington, D.C. 20005

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 Criminal Justice Reform program of the Washington Lawyers' Committee advocates for the humane treatment and dignity of all persons convicted, or charged - or formerly convicted - with a criminal sentence under District of Columbia law, to assist their family members with prison related issues, and to encourage progressive criminal justice reform.

We serve individuals sentenced out of Washington D.C. who are typically detained in either the D.C. Department of Corrections (DC DOC) or in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Specifically, we work to find free legal representation for individuals serving time on a DC Code violation at their parole grant hearings and with filing for DC compassionate release. We also seek to create systemic change within the DC DOC and BOP through targeted litigation, policy initiatives, and legislative advocacy.

The program's goals are a) to remedy deficiencies in medical and mental health services; b) to ensure that conditions of confinement are safe and humane; c) to work to prevent acts of violence, sexual assault, and torture in prisons; and d) to work with returning citizens and community advocates to create policy initiatives that reduce incarceration and assist individuals returning from a period of incarceration.

Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs confirmed this listing on November 03, 2021.

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

Prison Law Project - Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook

National Lawyers Guild

132 Nassau Street, RM 922

New York, NY 10038

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 to anyone: prisoners, lawyers, families, friends, activists and others. To download it, go to:

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

National Lawyers Guild
PO Box 1266
New York, NY 10009


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

Please note it may take at least 8 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 September 16, 2021.

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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