Legal resources for people in prison in Illinois

John Howard Association of Illinois

70 East Lake Street, Suite 410

Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 526-3714 Fax

Serves: IL

Focus area/description: John Howard Association is Illinois' only nonpartisan prison watchdog. Our mission: The John Howard Association independently monitors correctional facilities, policies and practices, and advances reforms needed to achieve a fair, humane and effective criminal justice system.

JHA is one of the country's oldest prison reform organizations, and one of only three non-profit organizations nationwide that monitor their state's prison system. Created in 1901, the Association has evolved from serving primarily as a probation and parole service to a leading voice in Illinois criminal justice reform, and a well known and respected prison watchdog organization.

We are the eyes and ears of the public inside Illinois' correctional institutions. We tour all adult and juvenile correctional facilities in Illinois which allows us to observe and document the challenges faced by both inmates and correctional staff and ensure that policies are implemented in ways that benefit our system by promoting public safety and reducing recidivism. JHA answers more than 3,000 letters and calls each year from incarcerated individuals and their loved ones; tracking the information and integrating it into our monitoring visits and policy development so we have a more complete view of the issues inside of our prisons and can be more impactful in recommending change.

Following each visit, JHA issues a written report that focuses on critical matters such as education, medical and mental health care, disciplinary procedures for youth and adults, and the physical condition of the facilities. These widely disseminated reports are read by everyone form lawyers to legislators, wardens to reformers, members of the Governor's office to members of the public at large; they provide essential transparency and oversight to an otherwise overlooked institution and drive safe, effective and necessary criminal justice reform.

John Howard Association of Illinois confirmed this listing on April 01, 2019.

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

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 assists inmates with the conditions of their confinement. We provide inmates across the United States with information and legal bulletins regarding conditions of confinement. This includes prisoners' rights to personal safety, adequate medical care, religious freedom, freedom of speech, access to information, and a safe, clean environment.

In the Middle District of PA, we are able to advocate for and provide civil legal advice and assistance to inmates regarding violations of their constitutional rights. The Middle District of PA includes the Allenwood Federal Correctional Complex, USP Lewisburg, USP Canaan, and FCI Schuylkill. In addition, there are twelve PA DOC state prisons and 34 county jails. The Lewisburg Prison Project is an affiliate of the PA Institutional Law Project. We do not assist with criminal or habeas cases.

Lewisburg Prison Project, Inc. confirmed this listing on April 01, 2019.

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
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 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 April 11, 2019.

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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