Legal resources for people in prison in Texas

State Counsel for Offenders

200 River Pointe Dr

Suite 312

Conroe, TX 77304

Serves: TX

Focus area/description: State Counsel for Offenders (SCFO) provides Texas prisoners with attorneys to help with legal problems. HOWEVER, this is a state office that DOES NOT handle civil rights actions against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and its employees. Most of the services involve post-conviction relief, criminal defense of prison cases, civil commitment defense, family law issues, detainers and time credit questions.

Offenders who want help with a legal problem should first see their unit law librarian for assistance and read the Legal Handbook, published by SCFO. If they determine their problem cannot be solved at the unit law library level, they should send an I-60 by truck mail to the State Counsel for Offenders Section that would help with the legal problem, i.e. Trial, Immigration, General Legal, Civil Commitment, Time Credit or Appellate. Mail may take longer to be processed if not properly addressed.

Offenders must contact State Counsel for Offenders directly - the request for help cannot come from friends or family members.

The offender's NAME and TDCJ # must be printed on the request or we cannot help!

An offender who has been served with legal papers should immediately send the legal papers with his/her request.

State Counsel for Offenders confirmed this listing on July 08, 2024.

These national self-help guides may be useful to people in prison in Texas:

The Jailhouse Lawyers Manual is a free guide to legal rights and procedures designed for people in prison. It contains nine sections designed to help incarcerated people learn about their rights, file lawsuits in both state and federal court, attack their conviction or sentence, and address the conditions of their imprisonment. It also contains information about the rights of incarcerated people related to health, safety, religious freedom, and more. We suggest accessing the online version of the manual and mailing the relevant chapters to your incarcerated loved one.

The Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook is a free resource for people in prison who want to file a federal lawsuit addressing poor conditions in prison or abuse by prison staff. This guide will not help challenge convictions or sentences or provide guidance on actions in state courts. It also has 14 appendices that provide sample complaints, legal forms, and guidance on how to reach out to journalists, among other topics. You can download relevant chapters of the handbook and mail them to your incarcerated loved one or request to have a copy mailed to them.

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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