From PILP

ATTORNEY INFORMATION re the new PA DOC Legal Mail protocols

PA DOC LEGAL MAIL: ATTORNEY INFO

Beginning April 6, 2019, the DOC will not copy legal mail.

Attorneys should send all legal correspondence to the prison, NOT Smart Communications. That mail will be opened in their presence and they will be given the original.

If your client received legal mail while the DOC was copying and confiscating legal mail, the DOC will be contacting them to decide whether to immediately destroy or return that mail.

Visit the DOC’s website (www.cor.pa.gov) and sign up for a new attorney control number. Include a valid email address as the DOC will be emailing you a WEEKLY code in addition to your control number.

When sending mail:
1. Place the attorney control number on a removable sticker on the outside of the envelope.
2. Place a second removable sticker on the outside of the envelope with the current weekly code.

ALL LEGAL MAIL WITHOUT A VALID ATTORNEY CONTROL NUMBER WILL BE RETURNED TO SENDER. If the mail has a valid control number, but not a valid weekly code, the DOC will contact you via phone and/or email to verify that you sent the mail before delivering.

Under the new policy, attorneys can no longer send any documents that were not printed/copied in their offices. This means attorneys cannot return original documents (grievances, etc) to people in DOC custody. Attorneys have until July 7, 2019, to return any originals currently in their possession. After that, if there are extenuating circumstances, attorneys can contact the business office of the prison, or the Office of Chief Counsel to make arrangements.

If you experience any issues or have any concerns with your legal mail under this new policy, please contact Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz, staff attorney in the Pittsburgh office of PILP via email (amorgan-kurtz@pailp.org).

Please click HERE for a printable version of this document.

FAQ: Your rights re the new Legal Mail protocol. Beginning April 6, 2019, the DOC will NOT copy legal mail!

 

PA DOC Legal Mail: Info Sheet 

Beginning April 6, 2019, the DOC will not copy legal mail.

Attorneys should send all legal correspondence to you at the prison where you are located.  That mail will be opened in your presence and you will be given the original. 

If you received legal mail while the DOC was copying and confiscating legal mail, the DOC should be contacting you.  You will be allowed to choose whether your original mail is immediately destroyed, or returned to sender (at no cost to you).

IMPORTANT CHANGE TO LEGAL MAIL: Under the new policy, attorneys can no longer send you any documents that were not printed/copied in their offices.  This means attorneys cannot return original documents you send them. 

You have a choice:

·  Keep your originals and mail your attorneys a copy OR

·  Mail your originals to your attorney and have them send you copies.

In light of this change, the DOC will be increasing the amount of money available to indigent individuals for copying.  You will also no longer be required to submit original documents in grievance or misconduct appeals. 

You should tell your attorneys that under the DOC’s new policy, they must sign up for a new attorney control number.  Your attorney must provide an accurate email address, as the DOC will be emailing a weekly code that must also be placed on the outside of legal mail.  Attorneys can request a new control number by visiting the DOC’s website, www.cor.pa.gov.  For more information on how these changes affect attorneys, they can also visit PILP’s website, www.pailp.org.

If your legal mail…

·  is copied after April 6, 2019

·  is returned to your attorney

·  is significantly delayed

·  or there are any other issues 

File a grievance immediately.

Write to the Pittsburgh office of PILP: 100 Fifth Ave, Ste 900, Pittsburgh, Pa 15222.

Click HERE for a printable version of this information

VICTORY V BERKS COUNTY: Order and Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law. Berks County must not treat the lowest risk Trusty inmates differently "based on their chromosomes"

January 15, 2019

Federal Judge Kearney ruled in favor of our client Theresa A. Victory stating that Berks County must allow her the same freedom of movement and opportunities provided to her male counterparts at the Berks County Community Reentry Center by Friday, January 18, 2019. These include 13 hours outside her cell when she is at the prison, no lock on her cell during, the evening and direct access to the rehabilitative programs she wishes to attend in the re-entry center.

Judge Kearney stated that “We find Berks County does not adequately justify its reasons for this substantially different treatment of lowest risk Trusty inmates working in our community on work release based on their chromosomes.” and “After too long, Berks County must act now to mitigate further harm to Ms. Victory and ensure her equal protection under the Law, without retaliating against her . . . because Berks County now needs to treat men and women Trusty inmates in the same manner.”

The Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project is representing Ms. Victory in this class action lawsuit filed on behalf of fifteen female work release and Trusty inmates.

ORDER

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

PRESS RELEASE: Court rules Incarcerated Woman’s Lawsuit Challenging Deprivation of Pain Medication and Mobility Devices May Proceed.

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project and Abolitionist Law Center

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA. On Friday, The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania rejected motions to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) and medical staff violated the rights of an incarcerated woman who is disabled. The case is being litigated by the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP) on behalf of Ms. Tracey Nadirah Shaw, who is currently imprisoned at State Correctional Institution at Cambridge Springs (SCI Cambridge Springs). Ms. Shaw brought the lawsuit after the DOC and medical staff violated her rights under the Eighth Amendment and ignored protections guaranteed by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act by denying her necessary pain medication and mobility accommodations, including a wheelchair, for over two years.

Ms. Shaw suffers from chronic medical conditions that cause intense neuropathic pain in her back and legs. For years, she was prescribed medication by DOC staff that stabilized her pain and allowed her to engage in daily tasks, including janitorial labor. In 2015, without the benefit of an examination or consultation, medical staff terminated Ms. Shaw’s effective pain management prescription, which resulted in debilitating pain and substantial reduction in her mobility. Ms. Shaw began to depend on additional assistive devices and accommodations to attempt to navigate life at SCI-Cambridge Springs. However, DOC staff took away her wheelchair, depriving her of the ability to travel the extended distances to educational classes, worship programs, and the dining hall. The DOC then used her worsening medical condition to temporarily remove her from her janitorial duties, resulting in a loss of essential income.

Ms. Shaw lost over twenty pounds because she was not able to physically walk to the cafeteria to get her meals and eventually, she suffered a broken leg requiring surgery and the insertion of six screws when she fell trying to walk with the absence of a wheelchair.

READ ENTIRE MEDIA RELEASE →

2018 ANNUAL REPORT: Fighting abuse behind bars in court — Rights of pregnant women & transgender individuals, freedom from assault & sexual abuse, access to life-saving medical care and more!

It’s been a busy year packed with organizational growth and successes moving cases forward for prisoner’s rights with huge wins for our clients.

Some highlights are: thousands of incarcerated people will now have access to life saving medical care, pregnant women will no longer be held in solitary confinement, transgender people are now receiving hormone therapy, we are representing a migrant woman who was sexually assaulted at ICE’s Berks facility, and we sued the DOC over the new legal mail policy that denies attorney client confidentiality.

Read more →

PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Landmark Settlement Re: Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C

November 19, 2018 | PA Institutional Law Project and David Rudovsky, Esq.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROPOSED LANDMARK SETTLEMENT ON ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT WOULD PROVIDE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR PRISONERS WITH CHRONIC HEPATITIS C IN THE PENNSYLVANIA DOC

Contacts:
David Rudovsky, Esq.
: 215-925-4400, drudovsky@klrawphila.com
Su Ming Yeh, Esq. (PA Institutional Law Project): 215-925-2966, smyeh@pailp.org

Philadelphia, PA, November 19, 2018:

Plaintiffs’ counsel announced a proposed landmark settlement in a class action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections that would provide much-needed medical treatment for thousands of prisoners with Chronic Hepatitis C.

“Chronic Hepatitis C is the most lethal of all viral illnesses in the United States. In its early stages, it can cause painful and debilitating conditions of fatigue; muscle, joint, and bone pain; and depression. Left untreated, the virus will eventually cause liver failure, high risks of liver cancer, and death. ‘The new DAA treatment is highly effective in curing the disease with a simple regimen of pills and without serious side effects,’ explained Su Ming Yeh, Deputy Director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. ‘The health of thousands of prisoners will be improved now that they will have access to this potentially life-saving medication.’”

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Chimenti Hepatitis C Class Action Settlement

November 19, 2018 | Settlement Agreement and General Release

Please click HERE to access the Class Action Settlement in Salvatore Chimenti, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, et.al., regarding access to highly effective medication for treatment of chronic Hepatitis C.

Athletes Use Unique Position to Call for Criminal Justice Reform

June 22, 2018 | Angus Love | The Legal Intelligencer

An ancient Chinese philosopher once opined that he wished to live in interesting times, and we certainly have that opportunity. One would think a mature society would look to elder statesmen and women, the professional class, esteemed academicians and leaders of the business community for guidance and wisdom in serious matters impacting our society. Due to a moral vacuum of our leadership, it has been left to athletes to speak up about social unrest. Unfortunately we seem to be an entertainment-driven culture, with a reality television star with a dubious business background (five bankruptcies and numerous litigation failures) to be our leader.

Our 45th president, Donald J. Trump, has created such a moral vacuum. While he brags about molesting young women, paying off porn stars and Playboy Bunnies, fathers five children with three different wives, and is a compulsive liar; he seems to lack a true moral compass. Despair seems rampant as suicides are up 25 percent in recent years and opioid deaths were up 21 percent last year. Thus it is left to those in the entertainment sector to respond to the vacuum. Oddly enough athletes have stepped up to challenge—especially those concerning the criminal justice system. In the area of criminal justice, Trump’s own problems aside; he urges police to rough up suspects, brands immigrants as criminals as his Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls for a return to the failed drug war, marijuana prohibition and harsher prison sentences. All of these measures fall most heavily on people of color and the poor.

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