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Jail House Lawyers' Handbook - 2010 Edition

Jail House Lawyers' Handbook - 2010 Edition

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Published by Umesh Heendeniya

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Published by: Umesh Heendeniya on Aug 18, 2011
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The
JailhouseLawyersHandbook
How to Bring a Federal Lawsuit to ChallengeViolations of Your Rights in Prison 
 
N
OTE FROM THE
E
DITORS
 
This Handbook is a resource for prisoners who wish to file a federal lawsuit addressing poor conditions in prisonor abuse by prison staff. It also contains limited general information about the American legal system. ThisHandbook is available for free to anyone: prisoners, families, friends, activists, lawyers and others.We hope that you find this Handbook helpful, and that it provides some aid in protecting your rights behindbars. Know that those of us who do this work from outside prison are humbled by the amazing work so many of you do to protect your rights and dignity while inside. As you work your way through a legal system that isoften frustrating and unfair, know that you are not alone in your struggle for justice.Good luck!Rachel Meeropol Ian HeadThe Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook, 5
th
Edition. Revised in 2010. Published by:The Center for Constitutional Rights666 Broadway, 7
th
FloorNew York, NY 10012The National Lawyers Guild, National Office132 Nassau Street, Room 922New York, NY 10038Available on the internet at:http://jailhouselaw.org We would like to thank:
All of the Jailhouse Lawyers
who wrote in with comments, recommendations and corrections for theHandbook, all those who have requested and used the Handbook, and who have passed their copy on to othersinside prison walls.
 
Special thanks to NLG Jailhouse Lawyer Vice President
Mumia Abu-Jamal
.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project
for co-writing “Issues of Importance to Transgender Prisoners” in ChapterTwo, and
The ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
for helpful insights regarding “Issues of Importance forWomen Prisoners.”
The original writers and editors of the Handbook
(formerly the
 NLG Jailhouse Lawyers Manual
), BrianGlick, the Prison Law Collective, the Jailhouse Manual Collective and Angus Love. And special thanks to
Alissa Hull
and
John Boston
for significant work on the 2010 edition.
The dozens of volunteers
who have come to the NLG offices every week since 2006 to mail Handbooks toprisoners, and to
Claire Dailey
,
Merry Neisner
and all the CCR staff, interns and volunteers who put in hoursand hours of research, proofreading, cite-checking, and mailing.
Jeff Fogel
and
Steven Rosenfeld
for their work defending the Handbook in Virginia.
 LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Handbook was written by CCR staff. The information included in the Handbook isnot intended as legal advice or representation, and you should not rely upon it as such. We cannot guaranteethe accuracy of this information nor can we guarantee that all the law and rules inside are current, as the lawchanges frequently.
 
 
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION..................................................................1
A.
 
WHAT IS THIS HANDBOOK?...........................................................................1B.
 
HOW TO USE THIS HANDBOOK.....................................................................1C.
 
WHO CAN USE THIS HANDBOOK..................................................................2
1.
 
Prisoners in Every State Can Use this Handbook..............................
2
 2.
 
Prisoners in Federal Prison Can Use this Handbook........................
2
 3.
 
Prisoners in City or County Jails Can Use this Handbook................
3
 4.
 
Prisoners in Private Prisons Can Use this Handbook.......................
3
 
D.
 
WHY TO TRY AND GET A LAWYER..............................................................4E.
 
A SHORT HISTORY OF SECTION 1983 AND THESTRUGGLE FOR PRISONERS’ RIGHTS...........................................................5F.
 
THE USES AND LIMITS OF LEGAL ACTION.................................................6
CHAPTER TWO: YOUR LEGAL OPTIONS...................................................7
A.
 
SECTION 1983 LAWSUITS................................................................................7
1.
 
Violations of Your Federal Rights......................................................
7
 2.
 
“Under Color of State Law”..............................................................
8
 
B.
 
STATE COURT CASES.......................................................................................9C.
 
FEDERAL TORTS CLAIMS ACT (FTCA).........................................................9
1.
 
Who You Can Sue.............................................................................
10
 2.
 
Types of Torts...................................................................................
11
 
a.
 
N
EGLIGENCE
........................................................................................
11
 b.
 
I
NTENTIONAL
T
ORTS
............................................................................
11
 c.
 
F
ALSE
I
MPRISONMENT
..........................................................................
11
 d.
 
I
NTENTIONAL
I
NFLICTION OF
E
MOTIONAL
D
ISTRESS
............................
12
 
3.
 
 Administrative Exhaustion...............................................................
12
 4.
 
 Damages in FTCA Suits...................................................................
12
 5.
 
The Discretionary Function Exception............................................
12
 
D.
 
BIVENS ACTIONS AND FEDERAL INJUNCTIONS.....................................13
1.
 
Who is Acting Under Color of Federal Law?..................................
13
 2.
 
Unconstitutional Acts by Federal Officials......................................
14
 3.
 
Federal Injunctions..........................................................................
14
 
E.
 
PROTECTION OF PRISONERS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW..............14F.
 
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE PRISONLITIGATION REFORM ACT (PLRA)..............................................................15
1.
 
 Injunctive Relief................................................................................
15
 2.
 
 Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies...........................................
15
 3.
 
 Mental Emotional Injury..................................................................
16
 4.
 
 Attorneys’ Fees.................................................................................
16
 5.
 
Screening, Dismissal and Waiver of Reply.......................................
16
 6.
 
Filing Fees and the Three Strikes Provision....................................
16
 
CHAPTER THREE: YOUR RIGHTS IN PRISON.........................................17
A.
 
YOUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO FREEDOM OFSPEECH AND ASSOCIATION, AND THE TURNER TEST...........................17
1.
 
 Access to Reading Materials............................................................
18
 2.
 
Free Expressions of Political Beliefs...............................................
20
 3.
 
 Limits on Censorship of Mail...........................................................
21
 
a.
 
O
UTGOING
M
AIL
..................................................................................
21
 b.
 
I
NCOMING
M
AIL
...................................................................................
21
 c.
 
L
EGAL
M
AIL
.........................................................................................
22
 
4.
 
 Access to the Telephone...................................................................
22
 

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