JLI Law School Tour to Uplift Legal Work of Incarcerated People

By Jhody Polk

The Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative (JLI), hosted by the NLG, is excited to be launching the Legal Empowerment is Abolition law school tour in seven states starting in the fall of 2019 through spring 2020. JLI will be visiting law schools in Florida, New Orleans, Texas, Chicago, California, New York, and Washington, DC.

Panelists will include formerly incarcerated law clerks and jailhouse lawyers, movement lawyers, formerly incarcerated lawyers, community paralegals, and social justice advocates. Legal empowerment suggests that when people know the law, they can use it and shape it. The tour will nationally elevate the JLI’s mission to empower law clerks and jailhouse lawyers through and after incarceration and what the impact of supporting and strengthening those inside has on prisons and our communities outside. The tour will highlight law libraries, law clerks and jailhouse lawyers across the country and the Participatory Defense movement—a community organizing tool dedicated to empowering families with incarcerated loved ones to successfully navigate the criminal justice system and impact the outcome of their loved ones case. We look forward to building strategic partnerships with law schools, lawyers, justice advocates and organizations that can bridge into law libraries throughout the United States. This will be the official public launch of JLI and the beginning of creating the third goal of JLI which is to create an advocacy network to support those inside as well as those returning to the community.

We have and continue to receive many emails and letters from law clerks and jailhouse lawyers in prisons all over the US. We are thoughtfully responding to each and sharing your voices with partners nationally. We are currently developing relationships that can lead to paralegal clinics in prisons throughout the US. The first phase of JLI was to connect with law clerks and jailhouse lawyers inside. We apologize if we have not yet been able to respond to your letter! If you have written to JLI and not yet received a response, please know that we look forward to writing to you soon. If you are incarcerated in one of the above listed states hosting a law school tour, please write to us and let us know what topics you feel we should highlight in the tour relevant to access to law libraries, legal resources and training needs, as well as what opportunities you would like to see inside and after incarceration for law clerks and/or jailhouse lawyers.
We cannot build out the JLI without you. It has been very inspirational to hear from and organize with you inside and we look forward to lifting one voice and collectively organizing to push back against mass incarceration through legal empowerment.

Jhody Polk
Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative
P.O. Box 2516
Alachua, FL 32615