our Mission

The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project's (PILP) mission is to ensure equal access to justice for the stunning number of indigent incarcerated and institutionalized people within our commonwealth whose constitutional and other rights are being violated.

We recognize the formidable number of barriers to resources and specialized knowledge that institutional legal issues require. Our organization was created for the purpose of providing this access and unique expertise. PILP provides civil legal assistance free of charge and is committed to ensuring that the most marginalized members of our community behind bars are afforded their constitutionally protected rights.


Our history

The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP) was established in 1981 under the aegis of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Net (PLAN, Inc.). At that time, President Ronald Reagan had called for the elimination of legal aid services and announced that federal budget cuts would reduce legal aid to institutionalized and incarcerated persons. This led to the creation of PILP in order to ensure outreach and specialized legal services to this vulnerable population remained accessible.

With the advent of Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) funding in 1989, PILP soon developed from a state-supported program into an independent law project that now receives approximately 15,000 inquiries and handles nearly 750 cases each year.

PILP was incorporated as a nonprofit with a Board of Directors in 1995. It is part of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network (PLAN) network of 16 legal aid programs, 5 of which deliver specialized services, and is integral to safeguarding the civil rights of institutionalized and incarcerated persons throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

For a more comprehensive case history please see our Legal Impact page.


Our Nonprofit info

The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization. Our primary funding is administered by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. We work on behalf of indigent institutionalized people in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania whose constitutional and civil rights are being violated.