Legal, Pro-Bono, Advocacy on the Inside

PA Statewide and National Pro-Bono Services, PA Statewide and National Legal Projects, Law Book Recommendations, and tips for survivors of medical neglect or physical abuse within the PA Prison System.  Updated February 2013

Down Load Printable Version Here – Legal Resources 2013

This Resource is 9 pages. In order to send it for one stamp you must print it out double sided. 5 sheets of paper = one stamp. Anyone is welcome to distribute this resource.  

PA Statewide Pro-Bono Services

Pittsburgh Pro-Bono Partnership. 436 Seventh Avenue, 400 Koppers Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Phone: 412-402-6641   Pro Bono Center: 412-402-6677 http://www.acbf.org/Attorney_Services/Pittsburgh_Pro_Bono.asp

The  Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership is a collaboration of legal departments, law firms, the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, and Neighborhood Legal Services Association. Our purpose is to increase attorney and paralegal pro bono legal services to the greater Pittsburgh community. We especially encourage new and more creative efforts to provide legal services to persons of limited means and to those organizations, including charities, which work on their behalf.   If your law firm, legal department or organization is interested in learning more about the Pittsburgh Pro Bono Partnership, please contact Elizabeth P. Gaetani, Esq. at 412-402-6628 or egaetani@acba.org.  If you are a low-income individual seeking legal assistance, the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Pro Bono Center may be able to assist you

Pittsburgh Legal Service Directory by Pro-Bono Pittsburgh http://www.nlsa.us/resources/links/information_resources/Legal_Services_Directory.pdf Free and reduced-cost legal services available to low-income residents of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Lawyer Referral Service – 412-261-5555 – For help finding a lawyer if you are not eligible for pro bono due to income or nature of the crime. www.paprobono.netA forum for public defenders in PA. (does not provide names of lawyers or legal advice) Philly VIP 42 S. 15th St., 4th floor Philadelphia, PA 19102(215) 523-9550   Fax: (215) 564-0845www.phillyvip.org Refers indigent individuals to volunteer lawyers, paralegals, and others who provide legal services free of charge.

National Pro-Bono Services

www.probono.net A forum for public defenders. (does not provide names of lawyers or legal advice)

Pine Tree Legal Assistance http://www.ptla.org/probono.htm Provides a list of organizations that “provide referrals to private attorneys who may be able to provide legal services for free or substantially reduced fees. Other organizations provide support for pro bono lawyers or information about pro bono services generally.”

American Bar Association321 N. Clark St.Chicago, IL 60610 (800) 285-2221  www.findlegalhelp.org Allows site-users to search for a list of resources available in their state, including pro bono or inexpensive lawyers, help in dealing with lawyers, legal information, and self-help materials.

University of Virginia School of Law probono@law.virginia.edu

http://www.law.virginia.edu/html/publicserv/probono.htm All law students are required to volunteer at least 25 hours of pro bono work annually. In order to count, the work must be unpaid, law-related, and supervised by a licensed attorney or a law school faculty member.

Pro Bono Institute 1025 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 205 Washington, DC 20036 Phone: (202) 729-6699 Fax: (202) 296-0303probono@probonoinst.org      www.probonoinst.org A small non-profit organization at Georgetown University Law Center that administers projects that “support, guide, and inspire legal institutions to enhance access to justice.” They do not provide direct legal services themselves. They do, however, hold an annual seminar that focuses on pro bono legal work and the issues contained therein.

Justice Deniedhttp://www.justicedenied.org/probono.htm Compilation of attorneys who take cases on a pro bono basis.

Great Resource page for New York based Legal projects – some national http://www.columbia.edu/cu/crls/action.html

Local Legal Projects

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project

Philadelphia Office: Suite 304 South 718 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA. 19106 Phone:  (215) 925-2966  Fax:  (215) 925-5337 Email: arlpilp@earthlink.net Contact: Angus Love

Lewisburg Office: P.O. Box 128 Lewisburg, PA  17827-0128 Phone:  (570) 523-1104  Contact: Cheryl Tennant Humes, Esq

Pittsburgh Office: 1705 Allegheny Building Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone:  (412) 232-0276  Website:  www.pailp.org Mary Walsh  Services:  Provides civil legal services to income-eligible clients residing in prisons or jails.

Lewisburg Prison Project P.O. Box 128 Lewisburg, PA 17837-0128

Phone:  (570) 523-1104 Email: prisonproject@dejazzd.com Website: http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~mligare/LPP.htmlContact:  Attny. David Glassman

Services:  Civil Rights Law Firm (non-profit); Legal Bulletins and Materials provider; serving the middle district of PA.

Northwestern Legal Services 1001 State St. Suite 1200 Erie, PA 16501 (800) 665-6957 (new clients); (814) 452-6957 (new clients in Erie) Email: roakley@nwls.org Website: www.nwls.org Services: This program cannot represent a prisoner in any litigation or court proceedings. Civil legal services in areas of family, health, education, and employment. Offers advice in Government benefits and housing in the counties of Erie, Elk, Cameron, Forest, Venango, Mercer, McKean, Potter, Crawford, and

Warren. Telephone advice is offered in areas of landlord/tenant, debt collection, sheriff sale, school suspensions and some custody advice.

Women’s Law Project (Main Office) 125 S. 9th Street, # 300
Philadelphia, PA 19107 Phone: 215.928.9801 Fax: 215.928.9848
info@womenslawproject.org Website www.womenslawproject.org

Women’s Law Project (Pittsburgh Branch) 425 6th Avenue, #18650, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Phone 412-227-0301 Fax:412-227-0417 info@womenslawproject.org Website www.womenslawproject.org

Pennsylvania Bar Association  100 South Street P.O. Box 186 Harrisburg, PA 17108  Phone: 800-932-0311 Fax:  (717) 238-1204 Email: info@pabar.org  website: pabar.org Services: Provides telephone referrals to private attorneys; first half-hour consultation at a reduced rate. For counties without a local service, use the above address,

American Civil Liberties Union ACLU- Philadelphia Office
P.O. Box 40008  Philadelphia, PA 19106 Phone:  (215) 592-1513 Email:  info@aclupa.org

Pittsburgh Office  313 Atwood St. Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Phone: (412) 681-7736 Toll-free: 877-PGH-ACLU
Fax: 412-681-8707 Email:  info@aclupgh.org website: aclupgh.org

Harrisburg Office P.O. Box 11761 Harrisburg, PA 17108
717.238.2258  717-238-2258 Toll free: 1-877-HBG-ACLU (424-2258) infohbg@aclupa.org  Through advocacy, education and litigation, our attorneys, advocates and volunteers work to preserve and promote civil liberties including the freedom of speech, the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, and equal treatment under the law. We stand in defense of the rights of women and minorities, workers, students, immigrants, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and others who have seen bias and bigotry threaten the rights afforded to all of us in this country by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In Pennsylvania, the ACLU has 10,000 members with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and volunteer chapters reaching all areas of the state.

Pennsylvania Legal Services  118 Locust St.  Harrisburg, PA 17101-1414  717-236-9486 toll free: 800.322.7572  717-233-4088 fax    www.palegalservices.org

DEFENDER ASSOCIATION OF PHILADELPHIA, CAP. HABEAS437 Chestnut Street, Suite 501 Philadelphia, PA 19106 Tel: 215 – 928 – 0520 Fax: 215 – 928 – 0826

DEFENDER ASSOCIATION OF PHILADELPHIA, CAP. DEFENDER 121 North Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19106 Tel: 215 – 557 – 4961 Fax: 215 – 557 – 4920

AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania 1211 Chestnut ST. #600 Philadelphia, PA 19107 phone- 215-587-9377 Fax:  (215) 587-9902 http://www.aidslawpa.org/

Blackstone School of Law P.O. Box 899 Emmaus, PA 18049-0899 tel-610967-3323 Services:  Offers a well known correspondence program. They can also be reached for free at 1 800 826 9228

International Legal Defense Counsel 1429 Walnut St. 8th Floor Philadelphia, PA 19102 tel- 215-977-9982  Services:  Advocacy agency for American citizens incarcerated overseas.

Community Legal Services, Inc.  3638 N. Broad St.  Philadelphia, PA  19140  215-227-2400 Center City Office 1424 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19102-2505 Main Phone Number: 215-981-3700 http://www.clsphila.org/ Provides wide variety of services to low-income individuals in Philadelphia.

Real good legal research website. Free!

Community Justice Project- Harrisburg Office 118 Locust Street Harrisburg, PA 17101 (717) 236-9486; 1-800-322-7572; (717) 233-4088 fax.

Community Justice Project- Pittsburgh Office429 Forbes Ave., Suite 1705, Pittsburgh, PA. Tel (412) 434-6002; 1-866-482-3076; (412) 434-5706 fax. http://www.communityjusticeproject.org Non-profit, public interest law firm with a mission to protect and expand the civil rights of poor families and low-wage workers. Typically limits advocacy to broad-based issues affecting a large number of people.

Pittsburgh Legal Service Directory by Pro-Bono Pittsburgh http://www.nlsa.us/resources/links/information_resources/Legal_Services_Directory.pdf Free and reduced-cost legal services available to low-income residents of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Lawyer Referral Service – 412-261-5555 – For help finding a lawyer if you are not eligible for pro bono due to income or nature of the crime.

National Legal Projects

Prison Legal News Prison Legal News802 257-1342 – P.O. Box 2420 West Brattleboro, VT 05303pwright@prisonlegalnews.org  http://www.prisonlegalnews.org

Prisoner rate:, 1 year subscription 30.00, 1 year 25.00, Professional 60.00 went up by a lot of money. It is truly a great newsprint magazine. Used to have sample issues for $2 that might of gone up too!

National Lawyers Guild, National Office 132 Nassau Street, Ste. 922, New York NY 10038 phone 212 679-5100 fax 212 679-2811 nlgno@nlg.org

National Lawyers Guild-– PhiladelphiaNadia Hewka nhewka@clsphila.org  The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members–lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees–the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.   Our aims: to eliminate racism; to safeguard and strengthen the rights of workers, women, farmers and minority groups, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them; to use the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their repression.

 ACLU National Prison Project 915 15th Street, NW Suite 620 Washington, DC 20005 (202) 393-4930
Fax (202) 393-4931  The National Prison Project seeks to create constitutional conditions of confinement and strengthen prisoners’ rights through class action litigation and public education. Our policy priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner medical care, eliminating violence and maltreatment in prisons and jails, and minimizing the reliance on incarceration as a criminal justice sanction. The Project also publishes a quarterly Journal, coordinates a nationwide network of litigators, conducts training and public education conferences, and provides expert advice and technical assistance to local community groups and lawyers throughout the country. The NPP is a tax exempt foundation funded project of the ACLU Foundation.

National Legal Aid and Defender Association1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036 www.nlada.org  Has national listings of free legal services.                                                                                                                            

NAACP Legal Defense Fund – 212-965-2200 –99 Hudson St. Suite 600 NY, NY 10013

NAACP Legal Defense Fund (D.C Branch)  (202) 682-1300 –1444 I Street NW Washington, DC 20005                                                                                   

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund – National Headquarters 634 S. Spring Street, 11th Floor Los Angeles, Ca 90014 www.maldef.org

Prisoner’s Rights Research Project University of Illinois College of Law 504 E Pennsylvania Avenue Champaign IL 61820 Researches legal topics sent to them. Law students give good advice on your issues, support it with case law, and reveal any contrary rulings.

The School of Paralegal Studies Professional Career Development Institute 6065 Roswell Road NE, Suite 3118 Atlanta, GA 30328 Offers a correspondence course.

Disabiltiy Rights Education Defense Fund  2212 6th St.  Berkeley, CA  94710  Phone:   800-348-4232 or 510-644-2555 Fax:  510-841-8645  dred@dredf.org  www.dredf.org  Provides legal referrals for prisoners with disability issues.

United States Department of Justice Civil Rights DivisionU.S Department of Justice 950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington DC 20530-0001 202- 514-2000 202-353-1555 www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/cripa.php

Equal Justice Initiative: 122 Commerce Street, Montgomery, AL 36104. http://www.eji.org/, (334) 269-1806 fax, (334) 269-1803 phone. EJI litigates on behalf of condemned prisoners, juvenile offenders, people wrongly convicted or charged with violent crimes, poor people denied effective representation, and others whose trials are marked by racial bias or prosecutorial misconduct. EJI works with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment, and serves the state of Alabama and the Deep South in general, working nationally on selected issues. EJI also prepares reports, newsletters and manuals to assist advocates and policymakers in the critically important work of reforming the administration of criminal justice.

Center for Constitutional Rights 666 Broadway,
7th Floor
,New York, NY 10012. Telephone: 212-614-6464
Fax: 212-614-6499  http://ccrjustice.org/ The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Law Book Recommendations

Protecting Your Health and Safety: Prisoner’s Rights Designed to help inmates who are not represented by an attorney, Protecting Your Health & Safety explains the legal rights inmates have regarding health and safety – including the right to medical care and to be free from inhumane treatment

You may also purchase a bound copy of the complete 328-page manual for $10 (which includes shipping and handling). Purchases may be made by check, money order, or credit card (VISA or Mastercard). Please mail your request along with your payment of $10 to:

Protecting Your Health & Safety / Southern Poverty Law Center
P. O. Box 548 Montgomery, Alabama 36101-0548

Prisoner’s Self-Help Litigation Manual – 3rd Edition this book is no longer available from the publisher. It is well sought after and can be found used places but the online book stores seem really pricey! Contains outline of Federal and State legal systems and relevant terminology. Aids a prisoner in handling the grievance process.. maybe if enough people write they will publish it again. For information or to order write: Oceana Publications, 75 Main St., Dobbs Ferry, NY  10522-1601. Or call: 914-693-8100. (like is said, I’ve tried to get this book and it is unavailable from publisher)

Law Dictionary by Barron’s or the Blacks Law Dictionary Are also good, if you can get your hands on ‘em.

Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual  – is a handbook of legal rights and procedures designed for use by people in prison. Prisoners are often indigent and therefore lack access to legal counsel while in prison. The JLM informs prisoners of their legal rights, shows them how to secure these rights through the judicial process, and guides them through the complex array of procedures and legal vocabulary which make up this system. The JLM also instructs prisoners in techniques of legal research and explains the need to take note of important legal developments. With the JLM, prisoners can learn to use effectively the resources available in prison law libraries. Since publication of the first edition in 1978, A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual has been used by tens of thousands of prisoners in institutions across the country. Prisoners have used the book to become informed of their rights and to address specific problems related to their treatment in prison or their convictions.

9th edition is available for free download!  http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/jlm/toc/

For prisoners: The JLM Sixth Edition is $25 per volume, or $45 for both volumes purchased together. We highly recommend that both books be used together. However, because inmates’ finances may be limited, you may purchase them separately.  Standard shipping is included in the price. If you would like your books faster, include $5 per book for first class shipping, or $10 for both volumes.

The Spanish JLM is $15. Standard shipping is included in the price; however, you may include $5 for first class shipping.

See the pricing chart on the JLM order form. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

For non-prisoners, organizations, or institutions: The JLM Sixth Edition is $90 for a two volume set.  Institutions may not purchase volumes separately. The Spanish JLM is $30.  Standard shipping is included in the price; however, you may include $5 per volume for first class shipping.

If you are ordering for a prisoner, follow the instructions for prisoner pricing. See the pricing chart on the JLM order form. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

To Place an Order for the JLM

For prisoners and their family members: The JLM Ninth Edition main volume is $30.  The Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is $5. First class shipping is included in the price. Prices and availability may be subject to change.  See the pricing chart on the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual order form. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

For non-prisoners or institutions: The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual Ninth Edition main edition is $100, or $105 with first-class shipping. The Immigration & Consular Access Supplement is $20, or $22 with first-class shipping. If you are ordering for a prisoner, follow the instructions for prisoner pricing. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/jlm/order/

COLUMBIA HUMAN RIGHTS LAW REVIEW COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW / 435 WEST 116TH STREET / NEW YORK, NY 10027 212- 854-1601   jlm.board.mail@gmail.com http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/index_jlm.php

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 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.  Orders to be sent to facilities in Michigan must be sent first class.  Also, 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).

The Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual It discusses how prisoners should prepare for and conduct disciplinary hearings. It provides guidance for prisoners in determing wheather the disciplinary punishment created an “atypical and significant hardship” requiring that federal Due Process protection be provided prior to being found guilty.The Disciplinary Self-help Litigation Manual is written by Daniel E. Manvile, Co-Author of the Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual

The DSHLM has 332 pages of text and only sold in paperback. The price of 34.95 to prisoners includes the price of postage. The price of $64.95 to non-prisoners includes the price of postage.

Print your name, address, city, state, and zip and send check or money order to Daniel E. Manville, PC., to: Daniel E. Manville, P.C. P.O. Box 20321 Ferndale, MI. 48220 Phone- (248) 282-0569 Fax- (248) 282-0569 Email- DSHLM@comcast.net

The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook  (Center for Constitutional Rights). This Handbook explains how a person in a state prison can start a lawsuit in the federal court, to fight against mistreatment and bad conditions. The Handbook does not assume that a lawsuit is the only way to challenge poor treatment or that it is always the best way. It only assumes that a lawsuit can sometimes be one useful weapon in the ongoing struggle to change prisons and the society that makes prisons the way they are.

The Handbook discusses only one kind of legal problem which prisoners face – the problem of conditions inside prison and the way you are treated by prison staff. The Handbook does not go into how you got to prison or how you can get out of prison. It does not explain how to conduct a legal defense against criminal charges or disciplinary measures for something you supposedly did in prison.  5th edition – has transgender and immigrant rights info

The handbook can be accessed at www.jailhouselaw.org. A paper copy of the JLH is available upon request by writing to the following address: Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook c/o The Center for Constitutional Rights 666 Broadway, 7th Floor New York, NY 10012.

Prisoner’s Rights Handbook (Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project) Written by Gary Rock, a prisoner in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and edited by Angus Love, Executive Director of PaILP. By focusing on the 3rd Circuit, this book more specifically assists Pennsylvania’s prisoners with specific case law and standards that can directly effect their cases.

Or you can order this publication by mail, please send your request in writing to: 

PA Institutional Law Project
718 Arch Street, Suite 304 South 
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA by Mumia Abu-Jamal (Author), Angela Y. Davis (Introduction)0872864693| paper | City Lights Publishers | 280 pages |$11.87  if your in prison you should also write before you send anyone your money In Jailhouse Lawyers, award-winning journalist and death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal presents the stories and reflections of fellow prisoners-turned-advocates who have learned to use the court system to represent other prisoners—many uneducated or illiterate—and in some cases, to win their freedom.

In Mumia’s words, “This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion-dollar endowed universities [but] in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the hidden, dank dungeons of America … It is law learned in a stew of bitterness, under the constant threat of violence, in places where millions of people live, but millions of others wish to ignore or forget. It is law written with stubs of pencils, or with four-inch-long rubberized flex-pens, with grit, glimmerings of brilliance, and with clear knowledge that retaliation is right outside the cell door. It is a different perspective on the law, written from the bottom, with a faint hope that a right may be wronged, an injustice redressed. It is Hard Law.”

261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133 phone: (415) 362-8193 • fax: (415) 362- 4921 • Open daily 10 am to midnight

Tips for survivors of medical neglect or physical abuse within the PA Prison System Compliments of HRC-FedUP!

Human Rights Coalition – FedUp! Chapter – 5129 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

hrcfedup@gmail.com 412-361-3022 ext. 4 and leave a message http://prisonerstories.blogspot.com

This is an overview of the grievance process folks should follow if they are survivors of medical neglect or physical abuse. It is excerpted from the PA Department of Corrections website.   For the complete document go to  http://www.cor.state.pa.us.

Please note that we reworded some information that we thought was confusing and hard to understand

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has specific policies concerning the abuse of inmates by staff and any others who use the facilities and come in contact with inmates.  ‘Abuse’ here is defined as: excessive force, unwarranted life-threatening action, sexual contact, or threats of physical violence against inmates.  This does not include medical care issues, abuse by other inmates, the conditions of confinement, or any other wrongdoing by staff that is not listed above.

You can report allegations of abuse to any employee.   Any employee who receives written or verbal notification of abuse must complete a DC-121 Part 3, Employee Report of Incident form before they leave their shift.  If your complaint is not defined in the definition of abuse listed above, to our understanding, staff is not required to fill out an incident report.

For medical care problems, cases of physical abuse, or other general problems, inmates should use the grievance system.  They should first attempt to resolve the issue with the staff member(s) involved.

If simple negotiation does not solve the problem, they can file an official grievance on a DC-804, Part 1 form.  These should be readily available to all inmates.  It is important that grievances be submitted to the Facility Grievance Coordinator within 15 days of the incident.  There are only a few exceptions to this time constraint, such as if the inmate has been transferred, had Authorized Temporary Absence, or some other mail delivery problem.  If the grievance is filed after 15 days from the incident, the inmate must include the valid reason it was late on the grievance form.

Once the inmate has received the Initial Review decision, it may be appealed within 10 days of the original decision.  Only issues raised in the Initial Review or determinations of frivolousness can be appealed here.  Appeals can only be filed after those 10 days under the same exceptions as with the grievance. The inmate should indicate at the top of the form that it is an appeal and include the original grievance number.  Only one appeal to the Facility Manager is allowed per grievance.

If the appeal fails and the inmate still wishes to pursue the issue, they may make a final appeal to the Secretary’s Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals.  Only issues addressed in the first appeal may be included in this one.  After the inmate receives the ruling of the appeal to the Facility Manager, they have 15 days from the date of that decision to submit the new appeal (except under the same conditions explained above), which must be addressed to: Chief, Secretary’s Office of Inmate Grievances and Appeals  Department of Corrections   1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA  17050 This appeal must include photocopies of the original grievance, the review response, the appeal to the Facility Manager, and the Facility Manager’s decision.  This appeal also cannot be made unless an Initial Review and its appeal have been pursued.

The following guidelines have been written by people who are currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania and augmented by advocates.

   1.Follow the correct procedure for filing a grievance at your facility.  Remember: you must exhaust all available administrative remedies (i.e. a claim of alleged deliberate indifference to one’s medical needs/physical abuse) before other actions can be taken according to The Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 (PLRA).

   2.It is also a good idea to contact the Medical Director and Health Care Administrator for your prison to see what their knowledge of the situation is and if they can help. It is most effective if a family member or loved one can make that call. If you’re outside support person is not a blood relative they may have to be authorized to discuss your medical records. This involves more paperwork but is possible. Keep in mind, even if the staff is not authorized to share information with you over the phone, you can share information with them. Let them know what you know about the situation. If you have absolutely no support, ask a friend if part of their support team would be willing to aid you. Also, try contacting outside organizations.

   3.If you have experienced physical abuse try to see medical staff  and get documentation if available.  Have your support team call your counselor, chaplain, unit manager and the warden to discuss the incident. Try one at a time. Again, a family member will be most effective at making this call.

   4.Tips for the support person  on making calls –  Try to avoid sounding accusatory on the phone. Counselors are good people to build relationships with as they are supposed to advocate for your loved one although they are not in charge of security or the grievance process. Often times they have such a huge caseload they are not sure who your loved one is and often times they can provide you with information. Calling the prison and building relationships with the staff no matter how hard it seems lets the administrators and staff know, that you are out there paying attention.  It is good to know where your loved one in prison is in the grievance procedure. For example, this way you can say: “They have reached this stage of the grievance procedure, nothing is being done. I am concerned, what can I do to make sure my loved one is all right? I am worried, This is what I know what do you know?” It’s best to call before  3pm.  If you don’t have long distance and/or it is hard for you to make calls because of your work schedule contact  an outside organization for possible help.

   5.Make copies of all actions you take.  Keep one and  try to get at least one copy of everything you do to someone you trust on the outside.

   6. Make sure to educate yourself on your medical problem(s) or prescriptions prescribed – this can mean doing your own research and/or getting someone to do it for you or assist you.  You can use this information in your efforts to get the institutions medical personnel to address your concerns.  You must be your own medical assistant! If the issue is medical care and you have a chronic condition for which you received treatment on the outside, ask your former doctor to write a letter to the prison health staff inquiring about the person’s care or to make a phone call to the prison on  the person’s behalf.  Also when researching and seeking info on one’s medical condition/disease consider connecting with local agencies for info, resources and advice near their prison as a relationship building possibility.

   7.Try not to adopt a hostile attitude towards staff members but also never blindly accept what they say to be true without confirmation from other sources (i.e. the research you’ve done).

   8.Also, don’t be afraid to complain!

   9.Medical malpractice suits should be filed in a state court as the standard of proof is higher in federal court.  While it is true medical malpractice cases have a lower standard than deliberate indifference cases in federal courts, in PA, one needs  to get another medical professional to certify that the treatment fell  below the standard of care.  There is an exception to this if the  medical care was so negligent that it is obviously below the standard of care.  

   10.If you would like to contact an attorney about your situation, one option is writing the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of General Counsel at 333 Market Street, 17th Floor Harrisburg, PA  17101

   11. If you have experienced physical abuse and are in state prison, you may want to contact the Office of Special Investigations and Intelligence (OSII) 1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA  17050 – phone 717 214- 8473. If you are in jail in Allegheny County, you might want to write to the Jail Oversight  Board County Jail 950 Second Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15219  and/or ask family, friends, and other advocates to go to the jail oversight board meetings (the jail oversight board applies to medical care as well). Call all other county jails to see if they have similar boards.

   12.Get involved with street organizations that represent prisoners’ rights/health but also do not solely rely on them.  Instead, mainly rely on family or any friend you can interest for support and they can also network with the street organizations in helping you. See Resources on other side.

   13.Last of all, and very importantly, make smart decisions and keep yourself as healthy as possible by not smoking, eating well, exercising, and doing things that make you feel good – physically, mentally and emotionally.

The Legal, Pro-Bono and Advocacy on the Inside resource guide was updated in February 2013 by Nikki Donnelley, Bret Grote, and etta cetera.

Down Load Printable Version Here – Legal Resources 2013

 

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