individual advocacy

A large part of the services undertaken by PLS staff includes individual client advocacy. Individual intake advocacy often has a major impact on our clients in achieving much-needed relief, such as access to medical services, mental health treatment, surgery, chemotherapy, or hormone treatment for transgender individuals; access to programming that might satisfy a parole requirement; removal from solitary confinement; and extensive advice to incarcerated individuals who file cases pro se.

PLS manages approximately 2,000 individual brief service matters, or intakes, every year. These intakes cover a wide range of issues. Approximately 40% of these intakes are regarding medical, mental health, and disability issues, with the remaining including guard assaults, solitary confinement issues, classification issues, and many others.

If you or a loved one is in need of individual advocacy, please contact us. Note: we must hear directly from the incarcerated person in order to proceed with advocacy, but if this is an emergency, please call us any time.

If you have additional questions or concerns that you would like assistance with, please call us during our intake hours on Monday (or Tuesday if Monday is a holiday):

1:00pm – 4:00pm

or write us a letter to:

50 Federal Street
4th Floor
Boston, MA 02110

below are a few of our latest advocacy success stories

Medical Attention Advocacy

In October, James reached out to PLS because he had been suffering extensive knee and back problems. Due to complications resulting from a knee replacement procedure, James has had to endure pain and swelling in his knee on a daily basis but was repeatedly ignored by the facility. Staff attorney Mike Horrell worked with James to advocate for medical treatment and necessary accommodations. Today, James has received a CAT scan, pain medication, and accommodations within his cell.

“I just want to thank you for working on this for me, I got emotional when I got to Facility B and thought about how Facility A got away with what they did over there, how they can torture people, how there can be so much hate… it’s a dangerous place” — Joseph

After ICE detainee Joseph’s prescription glasses were broken, the facility refused to have him evaluated for replacements. As a result, reading became virtually impossible for Joseph, making it exceedingly difficult for him to correspond with his attorneys, family members, and friends. Moreover, the county jail where he was detained repeatedly refused to provide him with religious accommodations, making it impossible for him to practice his faith. Finally, the jail held Joseph in solitary confinement for over two months. Thanks to staff attorney Mario Paredes’ advocacy, Joseph was moved to a different facility where his basic needs are finally being met. 

Classification & Extreme Conditions of Confinement

Reasonable Accommodation

A procedure had left Mary with extensive nerve damage in her lower body, requiring her to remain confined to a wheelchair and leaving her bed-bound without the assistance of another individual. However, the prison has denied all of her requests for accommodations. In fact, once when Mary requested access to the restroom, the officers simply ignored her. Mary was also unable to sleep as she had to endure sharp pain in her right lung whenever she was lying down. After months of working with paralegal Kate Piper and Equal Justice Fellow Sarah Nawab, Mary now finally has access to a pusher that will allow her to regain some basic mobility and has been provided with a medical mattress, making sleep possible again.

Last spring, a client reached out to us on behalf of his friend, an 84-year-old prisoner, Anthony, who had become blind and incapacitated. PLS worked with Anthony and his family in Massachusetts and his native country to petition for medical parole on his behalf and establish comprehensive home plans. Anthony was granted medical parole and was recently released to the home and care of his son and loving family this past November.

Medical Parole Petition


50 Federal St., 4th Floor, Boston MA 02110