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Columbia Law Website Description of Jailhouse Lawyers Manual 2011

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A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual

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HRLR

http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/index_jlm.php

JLM

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Order a Copy

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View Online

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http://www3.law.columbia.edu/hrlr/index_jlm.php

A J a ilho u s e La wyer 's Ma nu a l
A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual (JLM) is a handbook of legal rights
and procedures designed for use by people in prison. Since publication
of the First Edition in 1978, tens of thousands of prisoners in
institutions across the country have used A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual
to exercise their legal rights. Prisoners are often indigent and lack
access to legal counsel while incarcerated. The JLM informs prisoners of
their legal rights and instructs them about how to secure these rights
through the judicial process, clearly explaining legal research
techniques and how to read legal documents. Prisoners may use the
JLM to address specific problems related to their treatment in prison, or
to attack their unfair convictions or sentences.
To date, more than two hundred correctional facilities across the United
States have ordered the JLM, in large part due to the Supreme Court's

H O W TO G E T A J A I L H O U S E
L AW Y E R 'S M A N U A L
View Online: You can download the entire
Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual for free and read
it on a computer or print it yourself. The online
JLM is divided into chapters for easier
downloading.
Order a Copy: You can also purchase a
printed book. We try to keep the price as low
as possible for prisoners and their family
members.
Note that the JLM is not available for purchase
anywhere on Columbia University's campus.

decision in Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817 (1977). Bounds requires
states to provide prisoners with meaningful access to the judicial
system, either through legal assistance programs or adequate law
libraries. This influential opinion, written by Justice Marshall, and cited
in over three hundred opinions in thirty-three states and eleven federal
circuits, has had a dramatic impact on the ability of prisoners to pursue
their legal rights while in prison. The JLM can assist prisoners in
effectively using the resources available to them in their prison law
libraries. Many prison administrators have ordered the JLM as part of
their efforts to build adequate law libraries, discovering that prisoners
find the book easy to use and relevant to issues that concern them.
The Ninth Edition of the JLM, published in 2011, contains chapters
covering a wide variety of topics that are listed and available for
download in PDF format here. The JLM also includes a directory of legal
and social services for prisoners around the country.
With the needs of prisoners across the country in mind, the Columbia
Human Rights Law Review has endeavored, to the extent feasible, to
make the Ninth Edition of the JLM useful to all prisoners without regard
to where they are incarcerated. The information on federal actions will
be helpful to a prisoner in a federal prison, or pursuing federal claims,
no matter where the prisoner is located. The law, procedures and forms
relating to state actions vary from state to state, however. Where
possible, we provide information that is generally applicable, although
we often use New York forms and procedures for specific illustrations.
We regret that the size and scope of the book prevent us from providing
forms and specific procedural information for all states. Nevertheless,
prisoners outside New York will find the JLM a valuable research tool.
In the past few years, the United States Congress has created more
obstacles to keep prisoners out of the courthouse. These new laws
include the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which severely restricts
prisoners’ ability to bring civil lawsuits, as well as their ability to be
represented by an attorney. Similarly, the Anti-Terrorism and Effective
Death Penalty Act sharply limits the availability of the writ of habeas

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corpus, used by prisoners for centuries to challenge unlawful
confinement. Finally, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act denied judicial review in many circumstances to
immigrants that are ordered deported because of past criminal activity.
The Ninth Edition provides up-to-date information about changes in the
law.
In addition to the JLM, the HRLR published an English-language
Immigration and Consular Access Supplement for the first time in April,
2007. In May, 2008, a Spanish-language Immigration and Consular
Access Supplement also became available available for purchase.
A Spanish-language JLM (the "SJLM") is available to provide an
accessible resource for those prisoners who speak only Spanish. The
SJLM was translated from the Fifth Edition of the English-language JLM.
So, readers of this resource should know that some of the law included
in the SJLM may be out of date and may not reflect recent important
legal changes. SJLM readers must supplement this resource with their
own research. We anticipate putting out a new edition of the SJLM in
the coming two years.
An important part of managing and revising the JLM is responding to
the heavy volume of mail we receive from prisoners. We thank the
many jailhouse lawyers whose helpful comments have contributed to
improvements to in the JLM. We ask that readers of the manual
continue to share with us their ideas and comments.
In short, we hope the JLM will help prisoners protect their rights under
the law. We urge dedicated jailhouse lawyers to continue to stand up
for their rights and enforce their humanity against those who would try
to deny it. Remember—the JLM stands behind you!

Last updated April 2011
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