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. […]

BEYOND BARS: Who is the Worst Fool?

William A. Larson Licking, MO I have been under the loving care of the Missouri Penal System (MDOC) since 1981 and had been previously incarcerated in 1963-64. I am 77-years-young and it is pragmatically improbable that I will live long enough to walk the streets free again. The MDOC is the exemplar of the eternal […]

BEYOND BARS: Pattern of Discrimination Against Disabled Individuals

Hunter Lee Weeks, Paralegal Sterling, CO In an attempt by several incarcerated individuals to regain rights they have lost, a pattern of discrimination has emerged, perpetrated by the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) at Sterling Correctional Facility (SCF). Several inmates have filed a Title II complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging various instances […]

BEYOND BARS: There is Hope

By Robert L. Brown San Luis, AZ There exists so much frustration, as to a loss of light, with a sense of darkness trying to engulf one’s light, being an individual in prison means living daily on a treacherous, at times torturous terrain between doubt and faith, despair and hope. Merely, this is a mild […]