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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.


The Columbia Human Rights Law Review currently distributes three publications: A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, the Texas Supplement, and the Immigration and Consular Affairs Supplement. We are only able to respond to inquiries about obtaining copies of our publications. The Columbia Human Rights Law Review is not permitted to provide any legal advice. Please see the above Legal Disclaimer for further clarification about the kind of information we are allowed to provide.

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To view PDFs of the 11th 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, 11th 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