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View a Previous Edition of the JLM

We rely on sales of hard copies of the JLM to remain in operation. If you access this resource frequently and can afford to purchase a copy of the JLM, we kindly request that you order a hard copy. Every purchase of the JLM allows us to provide better quality products at a lower price to those most in need of access to legal resources. Click here to access an order form.


A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual is written and updated by members
of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. The law prohibits us
from providing any legal advice to prisoners. The information is not
intended as legal advice or representation nor should you consider
it as such. Additionally, your use of the JLM should not be construed
as creating an attorney-client relationship with the JLM staff or
anyone at Columbia Law School. We have attempted to provide
information that is up to date and useful. However, because the law
changes frequently, we cannot guarantee that this information is
current or correct.

To view PDFs of the 10th Edition of the JLM, please click on the chapter titles in the Table of Contents below.

If you are printing chapters of the JLM for use by someone other than yourself, please include the title page and legal disclaimer, which can be accessed in PDF form by clicking on the blue, “Title Page & Legal Disclaimer” link below


A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, 10th Ed.  

Title Page & Legal Disclaimer

Table of Contents

1. How to use the JLM

2. Introduction to Legal Research

3. Your Right to Learn the Law and Go to Court

4. How to Find a Lawyer

5. Choosing a Court and a Lawsuit: An Overview of the Options

6. An Introduction to Legal Documents

7. Freedom of Information

8. Obtaining Information to Prepare Your Case: The Process of Discovery

9. Appealing Your Conviction or Sentence

10. Applying for Re-Sentencing for Drug Offenses

11. Using Post-Conviction DNA Testing to Attack Your Conviction or Sentence

12. Appealing Your Conviction Based on Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

13. Federal Habeas Corpus

14. The Prison Litigation Reform Act

15. Inmate Grievance Procedures

16. Using 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1331 to Obtain Relief from Violations of Federal Law

17. The State’s Duty to Protect You and Your Property: Tort Actions

18. Your Rights at Prison Disciplinary Proceedings

19. Your Right to Communicate with the Outside World

20. Using Article 440 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law to Attack Your Unfair Conviction of Illegal Sentence

21. State Habeas Corpus: Florida, New York, and Michigan

22. How to Challenge Administrative Decisions Using Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules

23. Your Right to Adequate Medical Care

24. Your Right to be Free from Assault by Prison Guards and Other Prisoners

25. Your Right to be Free From Illegal Body Searches

26. Infectious Diseases: AIDS, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, and MRSA in Prisons

27. Religious Freedom in Prison

28. Rights of Prisoners with Disabilities

29. Special Issues for Prisoners with Mental Illness

30. Special Information for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Prisoners

31. Security Classification and Gang Validation

32. Parole

33. Rights of Incarcerated Parents

34. The Rights of Pretrial Detainees

35. Getting Out Early: Conditional and Early Release

36. Special Considerations for Sex Offenders

37. Rights Upon Release

38. Rights of Juveniles in Prison

39. Temporary Release Programs

40. Plea Bargaining

41. Special Issues for Women Prisoners

Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Appendix V

Appendix VI

Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual
The HRLR publishes and sells A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual (“the JLM”), a legal resource produced to assist prisoners and others in negotiating the U.S. legal system. With thirty-six chapters on legal rights and procedures including the appellate process, federal habeas corpus relief, the Prison Litigation Reform Act, religious freedom in prison, the rights of prisoners with disabilities, and many more, the JLM is a major legal reference for prisoners and libraries across the country. The HRLR publishes this critical resource and delivers it to some of those individuals whose rights are most threatened in our judicial system yet who often have no access to legal assistance. Our students deliver over a thousand JLMs every year to prisoners, institutions, libraries, and organizations. Finally, the JLM offers an Immigration and Consular Access Supplement in both English and Spanish language versions.
JLM Executive Board
Mara Sanders
Dhrumit Joshi
Executive Managing Director
Amanda Johnson & Lillian Morgenstern
Executive Articles Editor