This month Jan Bissett and Margi Heinen offer tips for finding Bar exam results, exam schedules, and reciprocity, and also provide links to relevant court, association, government and legal newspaper websites.
Criminal Justice Resources Prisoners’ Rights and Resources on the Web By Ken Strutin
Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker. He is the author of The Insider’s Guide: Criminal Justice Resources on the Internet, and has lectured extensively about the benefits of using the Internet for legal research at national and local CLE training programs. Mr. Strutin also wrote ALI-ABA’s Practice Checklist Manual on Representing Criminal Defendants, and co-authored the award winning Legal Research Methodology computer tutorial, published by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). He has contributed chapters to several books and written many articles concerning knowledge management, legal research and criminal law. Mr. Strutin has taught courses in Advanced Legal Research and Law Office Management. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Currently, Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association and writes a column for the New York Law Journal.
Published August 15, 2006
This guide highlights resources about prisons, the people who occupy them, legal and social services for inmates and their families, issues related to incarceration and reentry, and human rights behind bars. The focus is on selected web resources and online publications.
Commissions Legal Services Physical Health Statistics Conditions of Confinement Library Services Policy Research Support Services Education Mental Health Prisoners’ Rights Voting Rights Guides and Manuals News and Periodicals Prisons Women Inmate and Prison Locators Organizations Reentry Bibliographies and Research Guides Law School Clinics Parole Standards
National commissions have been created to investigate conditions and facilitate legislation aimed at reforming the prison system. And many states and local governments have established agencies to oversee their correctional facilities, and issue reports about their operations. More information on the national level can be found under Conditions of Confinement.
- ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions
- Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons
- National Commission on Correctional Health Care
- National Prison Rape Elimination Commission
Selected State Commissions
The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons conducted a national examination of the violence, sexual abuse, degradation, and other abuses occurring in prisons and jails across the country. Four public hearings were held over the course of a year. In 2006, they issued their final report, Confronting Confinement, with recommendations for improving and reforming the prison system, which included standardized reporting of violence and abuse, reinvestment in violence prevention programs, and expanding Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement to cover correctional facilities. The Commission was staffed and funded by the Vera Institute of Justice.
In addition to the work of the Commission, the following organizations have been monitoring and studying prison conditions in the United States, and around the world:
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), 42 USC § 15601, et seq., gave rise to the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The Commission website makes accessible testimony taken at ongoing hearings along with updates about their work. The following sites provide resources on PREA and its implementation:
National Institute of Corrections
- Annual Report to Congress: National Institute of Corrections: Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Public Law 108-79 (2004)
- PREA’s Implementation & Agency Contacts
Bureau of Justice Statistics
- Data Collections for the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (2004)
- Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2004 (2005)
- Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2005 (2006)
Prison societies and academic institutions devote resources to prison education through distribution of books and supporting course materials.
Here are several excellent publications that provide information on legal research, inmate rights, pro se litigation, and resources for prisoners and ex-offenders.
- Arrested? What Happens to Your Benefits If You Go to Jail or Prison? (Bazelon Center)
- Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook and Women’s Appendix (Center for Constitutional Rights & National Lawyers Guild)
- Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual (Columbia Human Rights Law Review)
- Protecting Your Health and Safety: Prisoner’s Rights (Southern Poverty Law Center)
The federal government posts a list of its facilities, and a locator to find particular inmates. Most states offer similar resources for their prisons and some jails. In addition to these directories, an individual state or county’s facilities can be found by searching the local government’s website or one of the national lists below for the appropriate department of corrections.
- Federal Prison Facilities (Federal Bureau of Prisons)
- Inmate Locator (Federal Bureau of Prisons)
- Inmate Locators (Corrections.com)
- National Prison Directory (PrisonerLife.com)
Many law schools have created clinics to provide representation for incarcerated persons who need assistance in post-conviction matters and prison-related cases.
These are directories and sites that provide information about legal services for prisoners and information on self-representation.
- Human Rights in Prisons and Jails (Southern Center for Human Rights)
- Prison Dharma Network Resource Guides Legal Aid Services
- Prisoners’ Legal Resource Addresses (Death Row Speaks)
- Prisoners’ Rights (Pro Bono Net)
- Prisoners’ Rights Project (The Legal Aid Society)
The resources from national library organizations and others provide information on the issues related to serving this special population.
- Directory of State Prison Librarians (Maryland Correctional Education Libraries)
- Law Libraries Serving Prisoners (AALL)
- Library Service to Prisoners Forum (ALA)
- Prison Librarianship Clearinghouse
- Services to Incarcerated People and Ex-Offenders (ALA)
The appropriate treatment of inmates with mental health issues has been the subject of much study and debate. This is a small selection of recently published materials and resources.
- Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project (Council of State Governments 2002)
- How to Help–When a Person With Mental Illness Is Arrested (NAMI 2004)
- Ill-Equipped: US Prisons and Offenders With Mental Illness (HRW 2003)
- Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers (US Dept of Justice 1999)
- Mental Health in the House of Corrections (Correctional Association of New York 2004)
Stories about prison conditions and developments in the law affecting prisoners’ rights can be found in these specialized sources. Notably, there are some standout publications, such as the monthly magazine Prison Legal News, which provides excellent comprehensive coverage and analysis of prison issues. Their website includes a rich collection of resources and an extensive list of research links.
Corrections Community Blog (National Institute of Corrections)
Corrections News & Features (Officer.com)
Corrections Today (American Correctional Association
Jail and Prisoner Law Bulletin (AELE Law Enforcement Legal Center
Prisons (Yahoo News) (NCSC)
Annual Review of Criminal Procedure [Prisoners’ Rights] (Georgetown University Law Center)
Columbia Human Rights Law Review (Columbia University School of Law)
New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement (New England School of Law)
Correct Care (National Commission on Correctional Health Care)
Journal of Correctional Health Care (National Commission on Correctional Health Care)
Prison Journal (Pennsylvania Prison Society)
<Table of Contents> Organizations
There is a broad spectrum of private, academic and governmental organizations concerned with the state of US prisons and the operation of the prison system. Many of them publish reports and studies on issues vital to prisoners’ rights and prison reform.
- ACLU National Prison Project
- AELE Law Enforcement Legal Center
- American Correctional Association
- American Jail Association
- Amnesty International
- Bazelon Center for Mental Health Lab
- Bureau of Justice Statistics (U.S. Dept. of Justice)
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants
- Commission on Human Rights (UN)
- Correctional Association of New York
- Death Penalty Information Center
- Death Row Speaks
- Families Against Mandatory Minimums
- Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Federal Cure
- Human Rights Watch
- International Centre for Prison Studies (King’s College, University of London)
- Justice Policy Institute
- Legal Action Center
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- National Commission on Correctional Health Care
- National Institute of Corrections
- National Institute of Justice
- National Lawyers Guild
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (U.S. Dept. of Justice)
- Prison Activist Resource Center
- Prison Policy Initiative
- Sentencing Project
- Southern Center for Human Rights
- United States Department of Justice
- Urban Institute
- Vera Institute of Justice
- Western Prison Project (ATA)
Here are some general sites concerning parole administration, more information can be found in the Reentry section.
- American Probation and Parole Association
- Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision
- Parole Violations Revisited (National Institute of Corrections 2004)
Health issues for people behind bars are a serious concern and have an impact on society at large. Here are a few national resources on this topic.
- Academy of Correctional Health Professionals
- National Commission on Correctional Health
- Society of Correctional Physicians
Many private, academic and governmental groups engage in research on prison and sentencing reform. They often conduct original research on the conditions of confinement or develop strategies to respond to current problems, such as overcrowding.
- Federal Prison Policy Project
- Impact of Sentencing Reforms on Prison Populations (Vera Institute of Justice)
- Prison Expansion & Sentencing Reform (Open Society Institute)
- Prison Policy Initiative
- Sentencing and Corrections Program (Vera Institute of Justice)
- State Sentencing and Corrections Programs (Vera Institute of Justice)
- Treatment or Incarceration (Justice Policy Institute 2004)
Much of the literature and resources on prisoners’ rights have already been noted under other categories.
- Prison Litigation Reform Act (The Legal Aid Society, Prisoners’ Rights Project 2004)
- Prisoner’s Rights ((Wex Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School)
- Prisoners’ Rights Fact Sheets (ACLU National Prison Project)
These sources concentrate on the unique concerns of prisons and correctional facilities related to placement, administration, and economics.
- Classification of High Risk Prisoners (National Institute of Corrections 2004)
- Costs of Incarceration and Supervision (Third Branch 2004)
- Meaning of Life: Long Prison Sentences in Context (Sentencing Project 2004)
- New Landscape of Imprisonment (Urban Institute 2004)
- Objective Prison Classification System (National Institute of Justice 2004)
- State Prison Expenditures 2001 (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2004)
More than 600,000 former ex-offenders are in the process of reentering society. And governmental and private entities are beginning to provide much needed services to ease the transition and promote reintegration.
- Advocacy Toolkits to Combat Legal Barriers Facing Individuals With Criminal Records (Legal Action Center)
- After Prison Initiative (Open Society Institute)
- Collateral Consequences of Criminal Charges (NY)
- Family Justice
- Legal Action Center
- Life After Exoneration Program
- Prisoner Reentry (National Criminal Justice Reference Service)
- Prisoner Reentry (National District Attorneys Association)
- Prisoner Reentry (National Governors Association)
- Prisoner Reentry Institute (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
- Project Greenlight (Vera Institute of Justice)
- Reentry Net
- Reentry Policy Council
- Reentry Resource Map (National Criminal Justice Reference Service
- Reentry Trends in the United States (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2002)
- Relief From the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction: A State-by-State Resource Guide (Sentencing Project)
- Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (US Dept of Justice)
National and state standards exist for the administration and operation of prison and jail facilities.
Jail Standards and Inspections (National Institute of Corrections)
Standards & Accreditation (American Correctional Association)
Selected State Standards
Criminal justice agencies, academic and some private organizations collect statistical information on prison populations, services and special issues.
Corrections Statistics (US Bureau of Justice Statistics)
Juveniles in Corrections (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)
State Corrections Statistics (National Institute of Corrections)
Many organizations exist that provide a variety of basic services to inmates and their families.
Nation Prisoner Resource List (Prison Book Program)
Prison Resource Directory (Prisonet)
Prisoner Support Directory (Prison Activist Resource Center)
Prisoner Support Directory (Western Prison Project)
Serving Families of Adult Offenders: Directory of Programs (National Institute of Corrections 2002)
The right to vote for persons behind bars has become the focus of studies, policy discussions and litigation nationwide.
Barred for Life: Voting Rights Restoration in Permanent Disenfranchisement States (Sentencing Project 2005)
Felon Disenfranchisement (Prison Policy Initiative)
Felon Disenfranchisement (NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
Felon Voting (Dr. Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota)
Legislative Changes on Felony Disenfranchisement 1996-2003 (Sentencing Project 2003)
Several organizations have devoted significant resources to the special issues facing women behind bars.
Resource List for Women in Prison (Chicago Books to Women in Prison)
Women in Prison (ACLU National Prison Project)
Here are some extensive bibliographies, pathfinders, and collections of resources on prison related topics.
Criminal Justice Resources Public Defense Systems
By Ken Strutin
Ken Strutin (JD, MLS) is an experienced law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker. He is the author of The Insider’s Guide: Criminal Justice Resources on the Internet, and has lectured extensively about the benefits of using the Internet for legal research at national and local CLE training programs. Mr. Strutin also wrote ALI-ABA’s Practice Checklist Manual on Representing Criminal Defendants, and co-authored the award winning Legal Research Methodology computer tutorial, published by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). He has contributed chapters to several books and written many articles concerning knowledge management, legal research and criminal law. Mr. Strutin has taught courses in Advanced Legal Research and Law Office Management. He is also listed in Who’s Who in American Law. Currently, Mr. Strutin is the Director of Legal Information Services at the New York State Defenders Association and writes a column for the New York Law Journal. Other guides by Ken Strutin on LLRX.com.
Published June 18, 2006
#public%2520defense”>Public Defense Directories
#criminal%2520defense”>Criminal Defense Lawyer Associations
#eligibility”>Eligibility #commissions”>Commissions #resources”>Resources
- Pine Tree Legal Services Their website offers links to civil legal services, legal aid, pro bono, backup centers, pro se site, and law school programs throughout the country, and some from around the world. Pine Tree is a statewide legal services program for the citizens of Maine.
- Federal Public Defender Directory (ODSTB) This is a national directory of federal public defender offices maintained by the Office of Defender Services Training Branch.
- Public Defenders (Findlaw) This is a collection of links to federal and state public defender offices, and national resource centers organized by state.
- Legal Services/Pro Bono/Indigent Defense (NCSC) The National Center for State Courts has gathered together web links to state and federal indigent defense, capital defense and legal services offices nationwide.
- Directory of Legal Aid & Defender Offices in the United States and Territories (NLADA) (order form) The National Legal Aid & Defender Association annually publishes, print only, a national directory of public defender and civil legal services offices.
In many states, public defenders, legal aid and assigned counsel rely on the support services provided by backup centers. These offices respond to the research and training needs of public defense attorneys, monitor case law and legislative developments, answer questions from the client community and members of the public, and serve as a clearinghouse for public defense advocacy and policy research.
- Arizona Public Defender Association
- Florida Public Defender Association
- Illinois Public Defender Association
- Louisiana Public Defenders’ Association
- Michigan Criminal Defense Resource Center
- Mississippi Public Defenders Association
- New York State Defenders Association
- South Carolina Public Defender Association
- Washington Defender Association
There are many statewide and local criminal defense associations, as well as sections of general bar associations, that have dedicated resources to public defense work. The lists below provide web links to many of these groups.
- State and Local Affiliates: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
- Defender Resources: Criminal Defense Organizations (NLADA)
Public defense systems vary from place to place. Some have established statewide systems and operate under commissions, while others are patchwork arrangements. And a few states are reevaluating their defender systems. Information about commissions and related developments can be found in the Spangenberg studies below. Underneath is a selection of state websites.
- Statewide Indigent Defense Systems Overview (Spangenberg 2005)
- Indigent Defense Systems of the 50 States (ABA 2004)
Connecticut Public Defender Services Commission District of Columbia Public Defender Service Florida Florida Public Defender Association Georgia Georgia Public Defender Standards Council Hawaii Defender Council Illinois Office of State Appellate Defender Indiana Public Defender Commission Iowa Indigent Defense Advisory Commission Kansas State Board of Indigents’ Defense Services Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Louisiana Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board
Maryland Public Defender Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services Michigan Appellate Defender Commission Minnesota Minnesota Public Defenders Missouri Public Defender Commission Montana Public Defender Commission Nebraska Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy New Hampshire Judicial Council
North Carolina Public Defender Commission North Dakota North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents Ohio Hamilton County Public Defender Commission
Oklahoma Oklahoma Indigent Defense System Oregon Public Defense Services Commission North Carolina Public Defender Commission South Carolina Indigent Defense Commission Texas Texas Task Force on Indigent Defens Virginia Indigent Defense Commission
<#Table%2520of%2520Contents”>Table of Contents>
The major bar associations, private research groups and government agencies have published reports on different aspects of public defense. They include systemwide surveys, funding studies, caseload analyses and highlights of significant problems and unmet mandates.
- Contracting for Indigent Defense Services (BJA 2000)
- Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases (BJS 2000)
- Gideon’s Broken Promise: America’s Continuing Quest for Equal Justice (ABA 2004)
- Improving State and Local Criminal Justice Systems (BJA 1998)
- Indigent Defense (BJS 1996)
- Indigent Defense Services in Large Counties 1999 (BJS 2000)
- Keeping Defender Workloads Manageable (BJA 2001).
- Redefining Leadership for Equal Justice: Final Report of the National Symposium on Indigent Defense 2000 (BJA 2000)
- State-Funded Indigent Defense Services 1999 (BJS 2001)
Gideon 40th Anniversary Sites
- Five Problems Facing Public Defense on the 40th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright (NLADA)
- Gideon at 40: Fulfilling the Promise (NACDL)
- Gideon Reviewed: State of the Nation 40 Years Later (NLADA)
- Gideon v Wainwright 40th Anniversary (ABA)
- Chp. 10 “Model Court Interpreter Act“ in Court Interpretation: Model Guides for Policy and Practice in the State Courts (National Center for State Courts 1995)
- Court Interpreters Act, 28 USC § 1827
- Alabama: Alabama v. Shelton: The Right to Counsel in Misdemeanor Cases Resulting in Suspended or Probated Sentence (NCSC 2003)
- Arizona: Indigent Defense in Arizona (NACDL 2001)
- Georgia: Report of the Chief Justice’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Indigent Defense (2002)
- Nevada: Indigent Defense Services in the State of Nevada (Spangenberg Group 2000)
- New York: Crisis in Legal Representation of the Poor (1st Dept 2001)
- Tennessee: Tennessee Weighted Caseload Study Update: District Public Defenders (2005)
- Texas: Muting Gideon’s Trumpet: The Crisis in Indigent Criminal Defense in Texas (State Bar of Texas 2000)
- Vermont: Vermont Indigent Defense Task Force Report (2001)
- Virginia: Comprehensive Review of Indigent Defense in Virginia (ABA 2003)
- Washington: Report of the Washington State Bar Association Blue Ribbon Panel on Criminal Defense (2004)
These are compilations of national and state standards for the criminal justice system, and public defense in particular.
- ABA Criminal Justice Section Collection of Standards
- ABA Principle Resolutions on Indigent Defense
- ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendant Collection of Standards
- Compendium of Standards for Indigent Defense Systems (BJA 2000)
- NACDL Collection of Standards
- NLADA Collection of Standards
- ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System
- Ten Tenets of Fair and Effective Problem Solving Courts (NLADA 2001)
- Executive Session on Public Defense (Harvard)
- Implementation and Impact of Indigent Defense Standards (NIJ 2003)
- Spangenberg Group Publications List
<#Table%2520of%2520Contents”>Table of Contents>
The ability to afford counsel depends on many factors, and the assessment of those factors determines whether an accused will receive assigned representation. Below are several guidelines, albeit starting points, used in making this determination.
- Determining Indigency (NCSC)
- Determining Eligibility for Appointed Counsel in New York State (NYSDA 1994)
These resources are excellent starting points for locating national and local materials on public defense systems and the implementation of the right to counsel. The Resource Centers listed above are another good place to find information about a particular state’s system.
- American Bar Association
- American Civil Liberties Union
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- National Legal Aid and Defender Association
- Spangenberg Group
Bibliographies and Libraries
Legal research and training expert Mary Whisner details the many resources and services (such as databases, books, conference space) available to solo practitioners that are provided by public law libraries.
Ken Strutin’s series of articles on Criminal Justice Resources continues with this extensive bibliography that includes: Foreign Language Publications & Websites; Directories and Services; Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resources; Ethics and Standards; Federal and State Court Interpreter Programs and Reference Sources.
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By Diana Botluk and Brittan Mitchell
Diana Botluk is the Director of Research at the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University College of Law, and author of The Legal List: Research on the Internet. Brittan Mitchell is a Law and Science Fellow at the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University College of Law, and supervises its pro bono research program at Stetson.
Web Guide to U.S. Supreme Court Research
By Gail Partin