HELP US END MASS INCARCERATION The Prison Policy Initiative uses research, advocacy, and organizing to dismantle mass incarceration. We’ve been in this movement for 20 years, thanks to individual donors like you.

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Peter Wagner, Executive Director

Legal resources for people in prison in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PAILP)

The Cast Iron Building, Suite 304 South

718 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Email)

215-925-5337 (Fax)

(570) 523-1104 (Lewisburg Office)

215-925-2966 (Main/Philadelphia Office)

(412) 434-6004 (Pittsburgh Office)

Serves: PA

Focus area/description: The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP) provides free legal assistance in civil matters to low-income people who are incarcerated or institutionalized. Intake Process: By phone, M-F, 9am-5pm.

Due to a large volume of requests for legal assistance, PILP has a staff person who responds to every inquiry. An assessment of legal merit is made and if appropriate, information and referrals for legal assistance are provided.

Client Eligibility:
PILP income guidelines are 187.5% of poverty; they serve PA residents statewide. Other guidelines: people who are in prisons (state and federal), jails, state hospitals (b/c of mental illness) state centers (b/c of limited capacity), or immigration detention centers.

Legal Services:
PILP will accept direct referrals of cases. They will also serve as co-counsel with local programs. In addition, PILP will consult with local programs on cases and provide training to local programs. PILP also conducts training in the community. They also assist with policy development, handle class action lawsuits, and work with clients on legislative and administrative matters.

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PAILP) confirmed this listing on August 03, 2021.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania

301 Chestnut Street, Suite 300

Harrisburg, PA 17101

(800) 692-7443 ext. 400 (Phone)

877-375-7139 (TTY)

Serves: PA

Focus area/description: A federally funded, nonprofit agency responsible for providing protection and advocacy services to people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Pennsylvania confirmed this listing on September 13, 2021.

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

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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