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Prisoners Legal Advocacy Network

An initiative of Lawyers for Equal Access to Advocacy & Dignity Incorporated

244 5th Avenue, Suite 2517
New York, NY 10001


Dignity Defenders Advocacy

PLAN challenges unconstitutional and dignity-denying conditions of confinement in U.S. adult prisons and jails by providing direct legal advocacy and supporting efforts to forge new precedent in the area of dignity rights law.

Election Protection Jail & Post-Release Voting Working Group

PLAN works to defend and expand the voting rights of presently and formerly incarcerated voters.  PLAN does so, in part, by administering the Election Protection Jail & Post-Release Voting Working Group in collaboration with coalition partners.

Jailhouse Law Library

PLAN’s Jailhouse Law Library (“JLL”) provides jailhouse lawyers, prison paralegals, and incarcerated pro se litigants actionable legal analysis that may bolster their efforts to challenge and improve their conditions of confinement.

 About PLAN

Dignity. Advocacy.
Coalitions. Resources.

PLAN Foundation

Support PLAN’s cost-free legal services and resources, and re-entry assistance, for individuals impacted by the criminal legal system

Past Initiatives

Fourteen years of high-impact legal advocacy and analysis achieved through inside-out partnerships, crowd-sourced legal capacity, pro bono initiatives, and coalition-building

Intake Form & Legal Questionnaire

Presently and formerly incarcerated individuals can report incidents and conditions of confinement or supervision that they experience or observe to PLAN by completing an intake form or legal questionnaire. While submitting a report does not guarantee that PLAN will be able to provide direct services or support, the legal information received using these case assessment and case development tools, anonymized to protect confidentiality, also helps PLAN decide which legal issues to prioritize in future years and raise awareness about the kinds of issues that impacted people report experiencing in different geographic regions and facilities.  When possible, PLAN provides cost-free legal resources to aid individuals’ self-advocacy in reported legal matters if direct services are not provided.

Our Mission & Vision

PLAN’s mission is to defend and expand the legal rights of presently and formerly incarcerated individuals so that those who are directly impacted by the U.S. criminal legal system can live with dignity and without fear.

PLAN is a non-profit organization that builds coalitions of jailhouse lawyers, attorneys, law clerks, advocates, and partner organizations to provide legal services and support to system-impacted individuals.  PLAN legal response teams work to: 1) expand the rights of presently and formerly incarcerated people and 2) challenge barriers that impede the exercise of existing rights.
Knowledge is power.  With knowledge, you’re infused with the power, the ability to then go and address the miscues and mishaps that you incur, or that anybody incurs.  And that’s what I was doing.  That was me in prison as a jailhouse lawyer. … For those who come behind me, …you brothers and sisters need to go read.  Read and learn and know what you are entitled to.  Everything that you have in prison, you’re going to slowly lose it – family reunion program, contact visits; you’ve lost the [ability to receive] packages already [in New York DOCCS facilities].  You’re going to lose it.  And the only way to stop these things from happening to you is that you learn the law and what you’re entitled to so that you can advocate for yourself.
Peter Anekwe

PLAN Impacted Advocate & Former Jailhouse Lawyer


PLAN Impacted Advocate Peter Anekwe

PLAN Impacted Advocate and former jailhouse lawyer Peter Anekwe discusses why jailhouse lawyering is critical to defending prisoners’ rights and how he acquired the skills to advocate for others inside.  Impacted people who are exploring advocacy work and others who would like to better understand the indispensable roles of jailhouse lawyers and prison paralegals may benefit from Peter’s insights.  Pro bono contributors who want to learn more about the transformative impact of the legal resource materials they help PLAN develop may also learn from Peter’s remarks about the invaluable services and support he provided to others inside.  For example, Peter recounts the dismissal of charges for one person on Rikers Island using a motion that Peter helped develop, after that individual had been incarcerated for approximately three years while awaiting trial for a misdemeanor charge that carried a maximum sentence of only one year.

Dignity. Advocacy. Community. Resources. Data.

PLAN defends the dignity of presently and formerly incarcerated people by providing cost-free civil legal services and support to improve prison and probation conditions and protect and expand the rights of system-impacted voters.  PLAN builds power by developing resources, coordinating mentorship, and creating training opportunities for current and former jailhouse lawyers and prison paralegals.  PLAN cultivates a community of inside-outside coalitions that center individuals impacted by the criminal legal system.  PLAN challenges carceral agencies’ monopoly on primary source data, elevates the voices of impacted people, and educates  the public with the only national prison and probation conditions data that originates with current and former prisoners, not prison officials.


Next Steps

Lots of Ways to Get Involved.

Our Team

Prison-to-Paralegal Pipeline

Join Us!

Law Clerkship Program

Prison Conditions Data

Know Your Rights Guides for Presently & Formerly Incarcerated Voters

Pro Bono Scholars Program

Resources For Jailhouse Lawyers & Prison Paralegals

Articles, Studies, & Presentations


Recent Announcements

Women’s Dignity, Women’s Prisons

CUNY Law Review (Volume 26.2)
November 13, 2023

Co-authored by a PLAN attorney and PLAN former jailhouse lawyers, this law review article proposes a dignity approach to combatting rampant staff sexual abuse in America’s prisons as a more humane and effective alternative to the failing Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”) regime.


Possibility Lab Expert Consulting

Jail-Based Polling Places Study
October 20, 2023

PLAN was retained as an expert consultant by the University of California’s Possibility Lab for ongoing policy study of challenges and solutions for jail-based voter registration and voting. Dr. Meredith Sadin identified key considerations for stakeholders on the basis of this exploratory exercise.


PLAN-LDF Jail Voting Presentation

Sentencing Project Event
October 11, 2023

PLAN delivered a joint presentation with the Legal Defense Fund’s Voting Rights Defender Project about jail-based voting resources that will be available in 2024 for system-impacted voters and their advocates at a national meeting of jail voting advocates convened by The Sentencing Project.


Pro Bono Opportunities

PLAN Initiatives Seeking Pro Bono Support




Law Students/Graduates

Jailhouse Lawyers

Subject Matter Experts


Dignity Defenders Direct Advocacy Program

Pro bono attorneys, legal workers, law clerks, subject matter experts (such as physicians and psychologists), and interpreters play critical roles in PLAN’s advocacy for the legal rights of, and humane conditions for, incarcerated individuals.

Jail-Based Voting & Rights Restoration

Attorney and non-attorney advocates and law clerks support PLAN’s efforts to help system-impacted voters overcome barriers to voting and restore their voting rights.  Pro bono contributors also bring crucial additional capacity to PLAN’s development of legal resource materials for presently and formerly incarcerated voters.

Jailhouse Law Library Legal Briefs & Guides

Pro bono attorneys, paralegals, and law clerks make it possible for PLAN to develop a broader array of legal briefs and guides to aid the efforts of jailhouse lawyers, prison paralegals, and pro se litigants than would otherwise be possible.