There are several ways to get involved with PLS. We host a variety of events and always welcome passionate people to join us in our fight to ensure the rights of those incarcerated. Check out some of pro bono opportunities and events below. If none of these are a good fit, we also have some open roles and a variety of ways to donate!
Pro Bono Opportunities
In this moment where we are all taking stock of the prison and policing systems and their impact on communities of color across the Commonwealth and the country, we’d like to let you how you can get involved in our work. PLS is contacted by thousands of incarcerated people every year and, because of our limited resources, we are unable to assist many who have meritorious claims. We are developing our Pro Bono Project in an effort to expand our clients’ ability to vindicate their rights and hold prison officials accountable. These cases will provide attorneys with opportunities to litigate cases up to and including in depth discovery practice, conducting depositions, settlement negotiations, and trial practice. Prisoners’ rights law is complex, hard fought, and extremely rewarding as you work towards ensuring that persons who are incarcerated behind the opaque walls of our prisons and jails are treated with humanity.
Legal Pro Bono Opportunities: PLS offers a wide array of pro bono opportunities across our priority areas: (1) access to medical and mental health care (2) guard brutality/excessive use of force (3) solitary confinement (4) extreme conditions of confinement and (5) medical parole/compassionate release.
- Medical Parole Certiorari Actions: PLS has been seeking release through petitions for medical parole for those people are terminally ill and permanently incapacitated, as well as those who are particularly vulnerable to serious complication from COVID-19. Many of these petitions have been denied without reasonable cause and we are currently seeking counsel who may be interested in filing actions in certiorari to seek Superior Court review of these cases.
- Immigration Detention Conditions Case: PLS has a project focused on conditions that civil ICE detainees are subject to in the three county jails in Massachusetts that house them: Bristol, Plymouth and Franklin. In recent months immigrant detainees in Bristol County in particular have been subjected to brutal conditions, assaults, solitary confinement, and inadequate medical care. PLS is looking for pro bono partners to co-counsel with us in developing litigation to challenge and improve conditions.
- Denial of Medical Care for Hepatitis C in County Correctional Facilities: PLS successfully sued to increase access to life saving treatment for Hepatitis C in the state Department of Correction. However, County correctional facilities remain largely unwilling to provide the same treatment that those incarcerated at a state facility are now receiving. PLS is looking for pro bono partners to co-counsel with us in filing a lawsuit against one or more County correctional facilities that will be substantially similar to that filed against the DOC, demanding appropriate and lifesaving treatment for people with Hepatitis C, and positively impacting an ongoing public health emergency.
- Case for Releases due to COVID-19: PLS is seeking co-counsel as we continue groundbreaking class action litigation on behalf of those incarcerated throughout the Commonwealth who are medical vulnerable to serious complications from the spread of COVID-19. The case is being heard in an expedited manner in the Superior Court, with discovery to be completed in January 2012 and summary judgment motions due in February 2021. The Superior Court judge has also made it clear that we can file for preliminary relief at any time before trial if conditions warrant it.
- Medical Care: People have a constitutional right to have adequate medical care provided to them while they are incarcerated. Too often, however, we see that the medical care given falls far short of what most people would consider the minimum standards of decency. Private counsel is needed to litigate medical malpractice and constitutional claims.
If you are interested in these opportunities or in learning more, please reach out to Jesse White, email@example.com. We are happy to set up an informational zoom meeting or call, and follow up with any information you would find helpful.
Types of Referred Cases
- Excessive Use of Force: PLS receives approximately 200 intakes a year from incarcerated individuals who have been assaulted and injured by correctional staff. Litigation is a critical component of accountability to stem the tide of violence by correctional officers against incarcerated persons.
- Medical Parole: In the recently passed criminal justice reform legislation, Massachusetts became one of the last states in the country to adopt a form of compassionate release, wherein individuals may apply to be released if they are terminally ill or permanently incapacitated. Private Counsel is needed to represent these individuals in petition for release under this new law.
- Medical Care: Because we have taken away an individual’s liberty to seek out and access medical care on their own, incarcerated people have a constitutional right to have adequate medical care provided to them while they are incarcerated. Too often, however, we see that the medical care given falls far short of what most people would consider the minimum standards of decency. Private Counsel is needed to litigate medical malpractice and constitutional claims.
Medical Pro Bono Opportunities
The medical professionals who have worked with us have assisted PLS in a variety of ways, including educating staff, advising us on our medical advocacy for clients, and reviewing records. We invite medical professionals interested in working with us in any capacity to contact David Milton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLS often seeks the assistance of co-counsel in our impact oriented class action litigation. We have successfully partnered with numerous nonprofits and law firms in winning substantial reforms for our clients.
PLS is proud to hold several events each year that celebrate our donors, collaborators, and colleagues. In addition, PLS holds informative pro bono trainings in prisoners’ rights litigation and coordinates with community groups to host public information sessions around prisoners’ issues. Join us for our next event!
- Check back soon!
- Nov. 29, 2022: Building Justice: PLS Annual Gala, Celebrating 50 Years of Advocacy. For more information, please see here.
- Jan. 19, 2022: Virtual Legislative Briefing on no-cost calls legislation
- Nov. 17, 2021: Building Justice: PLS Annual Virtual Gala. For more information, please see here.
- Oct. 14, 2021: Legislative Briefing – Two-Part Legislative Briefing on Parole, Part 2: Ending Life Without Parole – click here for an action alert with registration/zoom info, a flyer, and a sample script for sharing.
- Oct. 6, 2021: Legislative Hearing – Virtual Legislative Hearing – The Joint Committee on Election Laws held a virtual public hearing on Wednesday, October 6th. PLS submitted testimony in support of H.836 and S.474, An Act to protect the voting rights of eligible incarcerated people.
- Oct. 5, 2021: Legislative Hearing – Virtual Legislative Hearing on Correctional Services & Spending – The Joint Committee on the Judiciary held a virtual public hearing on several important bills related to correctional services and spending on Tuesday, October 5th. Important bills included An Act to Reduce Mass Incarceration, An Act to reform parole supervision in the interest of justice, An Act Relative to Inmate Telephone Calls (No-Cost Calls), An Act establishing a jail and prison construction moratorium, and An Act regarding decarceration and COVID-19.
- Sep. 22, 2021: Two-Part Legislative Briefing on Parole, Part 1: Parole Access and Medical Parole – see flyer here.
- Nov. 12, 2020: Second Chances Annual Gala – PLS was honored to hold our virtual annual gala with keynote remarks by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. If you missed it, you can check out a recording here.
- Nov 14, 2019: Taking the “CRIMINAL” Out of “CRIMINAL JUSTICE” – Staff Attorney Bonnie Tenneriello spoke at MHLAC’s conference about implementation of the CJRA and solitary confinement oversight.
- Oct 28, 2019: Unlock Democracy – Restoring Voting Rights to Incarcerated People – Executive Director Elizabeth Matos spoke about the movement to restore voting rights to incarcerated people in Massachusetts.
- Oct 28, 2019: Kickoff for Change – Many thanks to all who attended the launch of the PLS Justice Committee’s Special Initiatives Campaign!
- Oct 4, 2019: 20th Annual Criminal Law Conference 2019 – Litigation Director Jim Pingeon spoke about Medication Assisted Treatment in Corrections.
- June 25, 2019: No Pride in Prison: The Criminalization of LGBTQ People
- March 25, 2019: Legal Services Update: Immigration Detention Conditions Project
Join Our Team
Check our page below to see if we have current openings for employment or internships!