Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter One gives you an introduction to the Handbook. Sections C through E of this chapter indicate the limits of this Handbook and explain how to try to get a lawyer. Sections F and G give a short history of Section 1983 and discuss its use and limits in political struggles in and outside prison.

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION A. WHAT IS THIS HANDBOOK B. HOW TO USE THIS HANDBOOK C. WHO CAN USE THIS HANDBOOK 1. Prisoners in Every State Can Use this Handbook 2. Prisoners in Federal Prison can use this Handbook 3. Prisoners in City or County Jails Can Use this Handbook 4. Prisoners in Private Prisons Can […]

Only a strong prison movement can win and enforce significant legal victories. But the prison movement can also use court action to help build its political strength. A well-publicized lawsuit can educate people outside about the conditions in prison. The struggle to enforce a court order can play an important part in political organizing inside […]

As you read in Sections A and C, most prisoners who decide to challenge abuse or mistreatment in prison will do so through a federal law known as “Section 1983.” Section 1983 is a way for any individual (not just a prisoner) to challenge something done by a state employee. The part of the law […]

Unfortunately, not that many lawyers represent prisoners, so you may have trouble finding one. You have a right to sue without a lawyer. This is called suing “pro se,” which means “for himself or herself.” Filing a lawsuit pro se is very difficult. Thousands of lawsuits are filed by prisoners every year, and most of […]

Most of the prisoners in the Country are in State prison, but prisoners in other sorts of prisons or detention centers can use this book too. 1. Prisoners in Every State can use this Handbook. Section 1983 provides a way for State Prisoners to assert their rights under the United States Constitution. Every State Prisoner […]

The Handbook is organized into six chapters, plus several appendices. CHAPTERS This is Chapter One, which gives you an introduction to the Handbook. Sections C through E of this chapter indicate the limits of this Handbook and explain how to try to get a lawyer. Sections F and G give a short history of Section […]

This Handbook explains how a prisoner can start a lawsuit in federal court, to fight against mistreatment and bad conditions in prison. Because most prisoners are in state prisons, we focus on those. However, people in federal prisons and city or county jails will be able to use the Handbook too. We, the authors of […]