From R.B. in TDCJ Wynne Unit, Huntsville - May 9, 2016:
"If most of the population in prison would have known the laws or would have been given attorneys that knew the laws, most of us would not be in this state ran slave labor camps. It’s like fighting a beast with a blindfold on. We have access to a law library. However, if you don’t get the request just “perfect” you aren’t going. Then when you get to go, it’s a 4am-6am time, room temp is around 90 in the winter 55 in summer, no talking, only two books at a time, and the guards in the library don’t know any answers except write access to courts, and file a grievance. We have limited amounts of time to do paperwork and to study, and absolutely nobody to direct us in the direction we need. Gym rec is where you go to get advice, almost 80% of this is B.S. The NLG will hopefully publish some information that I can use to give back a life sentence without parole for a crime I did not do."
From S.S. in TDJC Coffield Unit, Tennessee Colony - May 5, 2016
"Imaging how different our justice system would be if incarcerated pro-se litigants had access to Lexis, the internet, and modern office machines while a State had to prepare its case in a restroom, by hand, with outdated case law (and coworkers prone to violence). There are many challenges but one stands out, and that is the pre-defeating stigma of the term 'Jailhouse Lawyer'. When a court is presented material from a board certified attorney and rebuttal by a 'Jailhouse Lawyer', the hurdle is automatic and difficult to overcome. Frankly, if the guild could help a transition to a more descriptive and respectful term of address - one that upholds the quality of work done behind bars - it would hasten a day where our work is judged on its merits. Such a term might be 'Incarcerated Pro-Se Litigant".
From J.F. in TDCJ Crain Unit, Gatesville - May 11, 2016
"TX has the sorriest prison system. They cover up their wrongs, don't pay us for labor, the list can go on and on. If I could change things within the judicial system I would. Even our grievance procedure, we can write up laws all day long, but in the end of the day, they'll believe their own officers and claim they investigated the matter; deny my allegations. We even had an officer here who was in the tower, who 'intentionally' fired a rifle into the incinerator, which is next to the boiler room; course if he have hit it, the whole unit be wiped out. Do you know that he is still here? I even had my ex-laundry bosses harass me, cross me out but how can we prove their wrong?If they don't put cameras and recorders in places or let us have a recorder, we will never be able to honestly catch the crooked laws. I don't expect special treatment; I understand they act and talk a way to make us have it here to do right but there's a line you just don't cross".
From L.A. in TDJC Ramsey II Unit, Rosharon - May 3, 2016:
"I would like to become an NLG member because I come from Dallas County and our criminal court system has the dubious title of being 'America's Wrongful Conviction Capital'. Dallas County leads all other counties and most all states in the number of DNA exonerations and is among the top in non-DNA exonerations. I have two friends who were victims of the Dallas criminal courts and served unjustly a total of twenty and twenty six years respectively in this TX prison system. De ju vu in 2008 following my friend's release I was wrongfully convicted for aggravated assault with deadly weapon, although it was known I did not commit the crime.
I believe if we each do our part, or at least what is within our means we can make a significant impact on the current judiciary across America because Dallas isn't the only place in need of serious reforms"
From V.V. in TDCJ Michael Unit, Tennesse Colony - May 4, 2016:
"I have found that trying to research and litigate from behind these walls poses unique challenges. From the inadequacies of prison law libraries, to staff that cannot or will not provide assistance, or in some cases, impede one's ability to pursue legal work, it is necessary to involve myself in any and all professional organizations I can, to build a stronger network to further my legal goals."
From G.B. in TDCJ Coffield Unit, Tennessee Colony - April 30, 2016
"An issue that inmate litigators truly face is access to up-to-date case information and case history. Often, it will take 6 months before I am made aware of a significant change in case precedent or become aware of a new ruling that effects the cases I am working. The prison law library is woefully restrictive and only the most basic law materials are available. They even have take out the TX Government Code books. It would be great for an organization, like the NLG, to put together an address or representative, whom we could write to so as to ask for say the latest US Supreme Court cases or any Circuit Court case law that we would not see for about a year. Since the Federal Rules AEDPA give us a year to raise issues based on new, applicable Supreme Court law, knowing when those come out and having an idea when they exist would be a great help.
We make substantive changes in the law. Yet, we do so with few and limited resources. For example, I cannot Google an expert I might need for a case. I have to write letters and ask family to search out one for me or for my client. I can't get accurate, useful Shepard's, I have to pay an outside source to do it form me. I can't get copies of case law, I can only "look" at it and take notes. These things take time and often cause delays in working a case, or filing to a deadline.
Thank you for acknowledging us, but for us to do what we can do, to a greater delay, we need just a little more."