Resources

Coalition for Effective Public Safety

CEPS is comprised of advocates, program providers, parolees, formerly incarcerated men and women, friends and relatives of prisoners, and human rights activists who have joined forces to promote and safeguard the human rights of all people across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To learn more about CEPS and take part in the Coalition’s work, contact Rachel Corey, CEPS Outreach Committee and CJPC Director, at 617-807-0111 or director@cjpc.org.

Legal Assistance

Prisoners’ Legal Services

PLS provides legal representation and administrative advocacy in civil (non-criminal) matters related to prisoners’ treatment in Massachusetts prisons and jails, and upon release on parole. Issues that PLS provides advocacy on include inadequate medical or mental health care; assault by staff; unsanitary, unsafe, or otherwise extreme conditions in a Massachusetts jail or prison; lengthy or arbitrary isolation or segregation, especially if the prisoner is suffering from mental illness; and unfair denial or revocation of parole, or excessive delays in parole proceedings.

PLS accepts calls from Massachusetts prisoners and their family members on Monday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. (800) 882-1413 is a free line for non-prisoners anywhere in Massachusetts. Prisoners in county facilities should call collect on (617) 482-4124. Prisoners in DOC facilities can call on a speed-dial number, *9004#, which is pre-authorized on all state prisoner PIN cards.

American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts

The ACLU of Massachusetts handles complaints involving issues such as freedom of speech, privacy, freedom of religion, discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation or disability, police misconduct, censorship in schools or libraries, fairness in application of school discipline, workplace privacy, access to government documents, inhumane jail and prison conditions, and other issues of fair treatment by government.

To request legal assistance, fax a letter to 617-451-0009 or mail it to:

ACLU of Massachusetts
Attn: Legal Intake
211 Congress Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02110

You may also call the office (617-482-3170) to speak with a volunteer. ACLU volunteers are typically not lawyers and cannot give legal advice, but they can provide referrals to more appropriate agencies or present complaints to an ACLU lawyer for review.

Parole Representation

The Prisoner Assistance Project at Northeastern University School of Law and the Prisoner Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) at Harvard Law School provide representation at select parole hearings. See http://www.plsma.org/parole/representation-at-parole-hearings/ for details and contact information.

Criminal Justice Reform Events in Massachusetts

The Criminal Justice Policy Coalition (CJPC) maintains a calendar of criminal justice-related events at http://www.cjpc.org/Events. Please email Rachel Corey at director@cjpc.org with any questions.

Resources by Topic

Solitary Confinement

ACLU’s Stop Solitary Project has a comprehensive list of resources for advocates available at: https://www.aclu.org/stop-solitary-resources-advocates. This list includes information on effects of solitary, cost issues, alternatives, litigation and legal analysis, legislative and policy reform, advocacy organizations, and a list of solitary-themed videos and film, among other resources.

Parole

PLS has information about parole, parole denial, representation at hearings, and revocation on its website at http://www.plsma.org/parole/. A white paper on “The Current State of Parole in Massachusetts,” published in February 2013 by attorneys at PLS in partnership with Attorney Patricia Garin, is available at http://www.cjpc.org/2013/White-Paper-Addendum-2.25.13.pdf.

Medical Release

A summary of articles and resources on medical/compassionate release can be found on the PLS website at http://www.plsma.org/critical-current-legislation/compassionate-release/.

All Topics: Legislation

CJPC maintains copies of bills and fact sheets on legislature being discussed in the Massachusetts State House related to criminal justice, including on community-based sentencing, pretrial and bail reform, medical release, solitary confinement, parole, mental health services, and restorative justice, among others. Information about bills under consideration in the current legislative season (2015-2016) are available on the CJPC website at http://www.cjpc.org/Legislation.htm.

Subscribe to a Mailing List

For regular updates on criminal justice-related news and events, we recommend the following:
• The CJPC newsletter provides information about statewide developments and upcoming events. Subscribe at the CJPC website (http://www.cjpc.org) and view past newsletters at http://cjpc.org/Newsletters.htm
• Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, runs a free email newsletter with breaking news on criminal justice-related issues, as well as advocacy/action requests and messages from PLN. Subscribe at https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/subscribe/email/