About PLS

Prisoners’ Legal Services is a not-for-profit legal services corporation, founded in 1972, that provides civil legal assistance to people who are incarcerated in Massachusetts state prisons (Department of Correction facilities) or in the county jails and houses of correction.

Prisoners’ Legal Services promotes the safe, humane and lawful treatment of Massachusetts prisoners through civil rights litigation, administrative advocacy, client counseling, and outreach to policy makers and the public.

The office focuses on four issues: health and mental health care, guard-on-prisoner violence, physical conditions of confinement, and segregation and isolation.

We Are Unable to Handle Criminal Matters and Other Issues Not Directly Related to Incarceration

Prisoners’ Legal Services does not have the expertise or resources to advise or assist individuals with issues that are not between a prisoner and the institution where he or she is or was imprisoned. For example, Prisoners’ Legal Services cannot provide assistance with child support, landlord-tenant, or divorce problems, although going to jail for even a short time often creates or complicates such problems. And, PLS is unable to provide representation in criminal trials or appeals.

Intake Procedure

PLS receives well over 2,000 requests for advice or assistance each year. We accept calls from Massachusetts prisoners and their family members on Monday afternoons from 1 to 4 P.M., Tuesdays after a Monday holiday. (800) 882-1413 is a free line for non-prisoners anywhere in Massachusetts. Prisoners in county facilities should call collect on (617) 482-4124. Prisoners in DOC facilities can call on a speed-dial number, 9004, which is pre-authorized on all state prisoner PIN cards. Since PLS’ phone lines can get very busy, prisoners are also encouraged to write to PLS at 50 Federal Street, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02110.

For further information on becoming a client, see Can PLS Help?

Our Strategies

  • PLS staff members communicate with the Department of Correction (DOC), Parole Board, and medical personnel to inform them of our clients’ complaints and advocate satisfactory solutions.
  • PLS represents prisoners in civil litigation to address violations of their rights under federal and Massachusetts law and to correct DOC policies and practices not in accordance with state agencies’ legal obligations.
  • PLS often engages in strategic and class action litigation to address widespread or systemic problems within the prison system.
  • And, PLS works to educate and inspire members of government and the public to support legislation that respects the interests of prisoners and their families, promotes public safety, and is fiscally sound

Follow the links below to learn about:

Prisoners’ Legal Services is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible, and directly increase our ability to protect and promote humane, constitutional policies and practices in Massachusetts jails and prisons. To support our work click here.