Legal Aid Services

ACLU National Prison Project

733 15th St, NW
Suite 260
Washington, D.C. 20005
(tel) 202-393-4930
(fax) 202-393-4931
The ACLU National Prison Project offers some general legal advice but is primarily involved in large class action lawsuits that challenge conditions of confinement. They do not represent individuals.

California Indian Legal Services

510 16th Street, Fourth Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
(tel) 510-835-0284
(fax) 510-835-8045
This organization provides legal representation to low-income Native Americans. They do not usually handle criminal cases.

California Innocence Project

225 Cedar St
San Diego CA 92101
Tel: (800) 255-4252 (619) 239-0391
CIP is a law school program operating out of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy of California Western School of Law.

Students work with practicing criminal defense lawyers to seek the release of wrongfully convicted prisoners (California only). The law students assist in the investigation of cases where there is strong evidence of innocence, write briefs in those cases, and advocate in all appropriate forums for the release of the project's clients. Request an Intake Questionnaire by writing to the above address.

  1. Your conviction must have taken place in Southern California.
  2. You must be able to claim actual innocence of the crime you were convicted for.
  3. You have to have been sentenced for at least four years or longer.
  4. You must have filed atleast one appeal.

Centurion Ministries, Inc.

221 Witherspoon St
Princeton NJ 08542-3215
Centurion Ministries (CM) is a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. CM has a national network of attorneys and forensic experts who ably assist us in our work on behalf of the convicted innocent throughout the U.S. and Canada. The primary mission of CM is to vindicate and free from prison those who are completely innocent of the crimes for which they have been unjustly convicted and imprisoned for life or death. We also assist our clients, once they are freed, with reintegration into society on a self-reliant basis. CM has a very narrow criteria for the types of cases that we will consider reviewing. Please review our stated criteria:
  1. We only consider murder or rape cases within the U.S. as well as Canada that carry a life or death sentence. We do NOT consider self-defense or accidental death cases. We will only consider a rape case if there is the possibility of using DNA testing to clear the convicted person. We do NOT consider child sex cases unless the case has physical evidence that could be scientifically tested to prove innocence.
  2. You must be absolutely 100% innocent of the crime and have had absolutely no involvement whatsoever with the crime.
  3. You must be indigent and have largely exhausted your appeals.
  4. We are NOT lawyers and, therefore, we do NOT offer legal assistance to those who petition us for help. We CANNOT make referrals to attorneys. If the inmate does fit ALL of our criteria, their initial letter to us should be brief, outlining the facts of the crime, and what led to their arrest for the crime. Inmates should NOT send briefs or transcripts of other materials! We just want to hear the facts in the inmate's own words. We in turn will send them a letter that outlines exactly what information we want, and what they can expect from us in the way of assistance.

Disability Rights Education Defense Fund

2212 - 6th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(tel) 510-644-2555
(fax) 510-841-8645

This organization provides legal and other types of referrals to prisoners with disability issues. They do not provide individual representation.

Freedom Foundation

P.O. Box 487
San Quentin, CA 94964
This legal agency assists in carefully selected cases where prisoners claim to be falsely accused or convicted. They enter the case after the appellate process has been completed. The screening process takes up to a year and only a few cases are selected each year.

Grassroots Investigation Project (GRIP)

Quixote Center
PO Box 5206
Hyattsville MD 20722
Tel: (301) 699-0042

The mission of The Grassroots Investigation Project is to empower family members of death row inmates and anti-death penalty activists to create partnerships with lawyers, journalists, and academicians for thepurpose of conducting low-cost investigations of death penalty cases that may reveal innocence and help to bring about a death penalty moratorium. Inmates may write for further information.

Innocence Project

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 5th Ave 11th Floor
New York, NY 10003

The Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law was set up as and remains a nonprofit legal clinic. This Project only handles cases where post-conviction DNA testing of evidence can yield conclusive proof of innocence. As a clinic, students handle the case work while supervised by a team of attorneys and clinic staff. Most of our clients are poor, forgotten, and have used up all of their legal avenues for relief. The hope they all have is that biological evidence from their cases still exists and can be subjected to DNA testing. All Innocence Project clients go through an extensive screening process to determine whether or not DNA testing of evidence could prove their claims of innocence.

Innocence Project Northwest

University of Washington School of Law
1100 NE Campus Parkway
Seattle, WA 98105-6617
These legal aid organizations provide pro bono representation to prisoners who are wrongly convicted of serious crimes, who no longer have a right to an attorney, and where there is an actual claim of innocence.

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

1540 Market St., Suite 490
San Francisco, CA 94102
(tel) 415-255-7036
(fax) 415-552-3150

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children is a non-profit law office that offers general legal advice around prisoners' parental rights, distributes The Incarcerated Parents Manual free to prisoners in California, and acts as a referral agency.

Lewisburg Prison Project

PO Box 128
Lewisburg PA 17837
Tel: (570) 523-1104
Lewisburg Prison Project educates prisoners as to their civil rights and distributes a variety of legal bulletins and publications, written in non-technical laymen's terms, at a minimal cost. We accept stamps and self addressed stamped envelopes as payment. Write for a free list of materials offered.

National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

125 South 9th Street, Suite 302
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(tel) 215-351-0010
(fax) 215-351-0779
This organization provides resources and other support to battered women who have been charged or convicted of crimes resulting from their abuse. While the National Clearinghouse does not provide direct legal representation, it offers technical assistance to defense teams working on behalf of battered women defendants.

The National Death Row Assistance Network of CURE (NDRAN)

Claudia Whitman
6 Tolman Rd
Peaks Island ME 04108
Tel: (888) 255-6196  E-mail:
The National Death Row Assistance Network of CURE is a new organization formed to help death row prisoners across the United States gain access to legal, financial, and community support and to assist individual prisoner's efforts to act as self-advocates.

National Lawyers Guild

143 Madison Ave 4th Floor
New York NY 10016
Tel: (212) 679-5100
The National Lawyers Guild is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. "We provide self-help law kits free of charge to assist inmates in representing themselves and their own cases or in assisting others." The self-help kits are written in an easy to use language that tells you how to file civil complaints, how to deal with grievances, and most other legal matters that you would encounter in the course of being imprisoned.

National Legal Aid & Defender Association

1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20036
(tel) 202-452-0620
Serves the broad equal justice community.

Penal Law Project

W 2nd & Cherry Streets
Chico, CA 95929
This organization provides legal referrals and information packets on the following topics: Habeas Corpus, the 602 appeals process, Three Strikes, civil rights action, expunging a criminal record, and parolee rights.

Prisoner's Rights Union

P.O. Box 1019
Sacramento, CA 94812
This groups publishes over 40 self-help legal manuals available at low or no cost to prisoners.

The Prisoner's Guide to Survival

PSI Publishing, Inc.
413-B 19th St #168
Lynden WA 98264
Tel: (800) 557-8868
A comprehensive legal assistance manual for post conviction relief and prisoners' civil rights actions. 750 pages, soft cover, $49.95 for prisoners. No matter what your legal or educational background, The Prisoner's Guide to Survival will help you learn how to research the law, study your rights, determine your legal options, and take the necessary steps to protect your rights or challenge an illegal conviction or sentence. Complex issues are explained in plain language so that even if you don't have an attorney, you can make an informed decision regarding your legal choices. The Survival Guide includes: current legislation and court decisions affecting prisoners, actual-size example forms for Appeals, Habeas Corpus actions, Motions, Constitutional rights complaints for state and federal prisoners, and much more.

Prisoner's Self-Help Litigation Manual

Many grievances of prisoners can be remedied without the assistance of a lawyer. Oceana Publications offers the Prisoner's Self-Help Litigation Manual ($32.95). This valuable publication includes an outline of Federal and State legal systems and relevant terminology. This essential resource will help you to understand your rights, and will present possible remedies.
Oceana Publications, Inc.
75 Main St.
Dobbs Ferry NY 10522-1601
Tel: (914) 693-8100

Prison Law Office

General Delivery
San Quentin, CA 94964
The Prison Law Office is a non-profit law office that offers free legal services to people in California prisons regarding conditions of confinement, and provides self-help legal manuals on various topics including parole hearings, Habeas Corpus, and suing a public entity. We also offer numerous self-help law manuals free of charge.

Prison Legal Aid Network

1521 Alton Rd. #366
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Prison Legal News

2400 N.W. 80th St #148
Seattle WA 98117-4449
Tel: (206) 246-1022
Prison Legal News is an independent 36-page monthly publication that provides a cutting edge review and analysis of prisoner rights, court rulings, and news about prison issues. PLN has a national focus on both state and federal prison issues, with international coverage as well. PLN is subscribed to and read by civil and criminal trial and appellate attorneys, judges, public defenders, journalists, academics, paralegals, prison rights activists, students, family members of prisoners, concerned private individuals, politicians, and state-level government officials. PLN will mail, at no charge, an informational brochure, a brochure of the legal and prisoner oriented books it sells, a calendar, and a bookmark to any prisoner in the U.S.