BEYOND BARS: A Broken and Shattered System

By Chris Freeman New Boston, TX Most criminals grew up in circumstances of dire poverty, in families where one or both parents were abusive, and without the benefits of a proper education or away from home at a young age. We were forced to drift to the poor and slum areas of big cities and […]

BEYOND BARS: Re: Law as a Pathway to Character Development

By William A. Larson Licking, MO Mr. Phoenix’s commentary articulations in “Law as a Pathway to Character Development,” on page 19 of your Summer/Fall 2017 issue of Guild Notes, is “right on” point, as we used to say in days gone by. Far too many prisoners allow themselves to be turned into Quisling Sheople, by […]

BEYOND BARS: Dirty Lawyers and Crooked Judges

By Gabriel Arkles, NLG member and professor at Northeastern University School of Law Most defense attorneys—especially public defenders—are good people doing their best in a shitty system. And some are truly amazing. But there are some who flout the rules. These are the private lawyers who pressure you and your family to pay them your […]

Beyond Bars: Life at Vaughn Prison as a Black Transwoman

When I was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison, I was largely relieved. At least I would escape temporarily the hell of rape, violence, and discrimination which my life on the streets as a black transwoman had involved. Many transgender people like me are ostracized by our families, refused respite in public shelters, […]

Beyond Bars: Law as a Pathway to Character Development

By Jeremiah Phoenix Dannemora, NY As readers of this column know well, familiarity with law is a valuable and often necessary skill in prison. A talented prisoner litigant can effect significant positive change for himself or herself and their fellow brothers and sisters, and can protect themselves from repression and abuse in ways people without […]

Beyond Bars: Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

By C. Martin Sterling Newark, NJ We are assured that if we are charged with a crime in the “Land of the Free,” we are, “innocent until proven guilty.” We are handcuffed and shackled in front of friends, family, and neighbors, though we are, “innocent until proven guilty.” We are vilified by the media, for […]

BEYOND BARS: Legal Espionage: The Degradation of the Brady Doctrine

By S. Gabriella Kiely Romulus, NY The US legal system is built on fair and equitable legal proceedings in criminal cases; securing fundamental rights for defendants, and restricting malicious behaviors by the lawyers. Over the years, many appellate cases have changed the face of criminal defense law; one of those cases was Brady v. Maryland […]

BEYOND BARS: Reflections on 40 Years of NLG-JHL Activism

By Iron Thunderhorse Teague, TX I began working with NLG as a jailhouse lawyer membership coordinator in the early 1970s. That was the year when the monster of all prisoner lawsuits began, and Ruiz v. Estelle was launched under the Institutionalized Persons Act. Multiple complaints were consolidated and the United States intervened as a party. […]