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Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide For Inmates


325 pages. Written by Robert E. Toone; edited by Daniel Manville.
Southern Poverty Law Center (2nd Edition, 2009).

The murky waters of prisoner self-representation just got a little easier to navigate with the arrival of the second edition of Protecting Your Health & Safety, A Litigation Guide For Inmates.

Published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and distributed by PLN, Protecting Your Health & Safety is an easy to read, plain language guide prisoners can use to identify and litigate federal civil rights claims against prison officials.

Written by Robert E. Toone and edited by PLN columnist Daniel Manville, Protecting Your Health & Safety dedicates over 100 pages to the different kinds of constitutional and statutory violations prisoners frequently encounter while incarcerated. Topics discussed include the First to Fourteenth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act.

Each issue, whether it may be First Amendment retaliation or a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, is addressed in laymen’s terms and supported by case citations from federal district courts, federal courts of appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Difficult concepts like deliberate indifference are simplified in just seven pages, giving you what you need to know to make out a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim.

Protecting Your Health & Safety does not stop at helping identify potential wrongs, though. Rather, with its over 130 page discussion on how to write a complaint, seek in forma pauperis status, ask for appointment of counsel, respond to motions to dismiss, respond to motions for summary judgment, conduct discovery, and even present your case at trial, Protecting Your Health brings you to the finish line. Even procedural issues such as exhaustion of administrative remedies are addressed, helping you avoid dismissal at the pleading stage. A glossary of commonly used legal terms is also included, along with a directory of addresses where to file your federal civil rights suit in each judicial district.

In all, the second edition of Protecting Your Health & Safety is a well written, must buy, for any serious prisoner litigant.

Updated by Dan Manville this is the new, 2009 edition of the book and replaces earlier versions.