BEYOND BARS: Be Vigilant of Your Rights

Patrick Lexis
Suffield, CT

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Patrick Lexis and I’m 25-years-old. In my six years incarcerated I was compelled to learn the law. I taught myself to practice law. By reading countless case laws in my cell, I learned how to prove the elements of how my civil rights were violated. I took a keen interest in the law. I’ve witnessed first-hand how I and all the other prisoners had their civil rights violated.

I began reading, A Jailhouse Lawyers Manual, 10th Edition. I retained all the information and started helping and writing civil rights complaints for prisoners who did not know a thing about the law. Prisoners go each day knowing that their rights are being violated, but don’t know how to comment a grievance, let alone a civil rights complaint.

It fills me with bliss knowing that I can help a prisoner invoke their rights and seek redress in court. Prison officials take advantage of the ignorant knowing that they are blatantly violating prisoners’ rights. One thing I noticed about prison officials is that they will almost always deny that they did any malfeasance.

Anytime I assist a prisoner with a Sec. 1983 I always stress that they must be “vigilant of your rights and not sleep on them.” A lot of prisoners lose hope because of the gloomy environment that they’re in. They believe they cannot do anything about their rights being violated. Once I introduce them to the power of the law, and how nobody is above it, their determination to do something about it is evident.

As a prisoner and human being, I truly believe our civil rights are priceless. All in all, the law is an art that I’m vigilant of and understand. It’s a pleasure I think about when I’m waking up and when I’m going to sleep. Most of all, helping my fellow prisoners becoming vigilant of their civil rights is the best joy.