Results

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

BREAKING: Civil Rights Groups and PA Department of Corrections Near Settlement of Lawsuit Over Legal Mail

February 22, 2019

HARRISBURG – Lawyers for four civil rights organizations and one person who is currently incarcerated announced today that they are finalizing the details of a settlement of their lawsuits challenging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ policy of copying and storing legal mail. The four organizations challenging the policy issued the following statement in response to the developments in the case:

“We appreciate that the department has agreed that, beginning April 6, they will stop copying and storing prisoners’ legal mail. The revised screening procedures will respect the rights of prisoners to confidential and privileged attorney-client communications without compromising the department's efforts to prohibit drug use in the prisons.”

The organizational plaintiffs, Pennsylvania’s four largest prisoners’ rights groups, are the Abolitionist Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, Amistad Law Project, and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP). Volunteer attorneys from the law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, led by partner Keith Whitson, are also representing the plaintiffs. PILP, et al. v. Wetzel was combined with another challenge, Hayes v. Wetzel, which was brought by Davon Hayes, who is a prisoner at SCI-Smithfield in Huntingdon.

More information is available at aclupa.org/PILP.

Pennsylvania prisons to roll back unprecedented mail policy in legal settlement

February 22, 2019 | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Samantha Melamed

As part of a legal settlement expected to be finalized in March, Pennsylvania’s state prisons will rescind a six-month-old policy lawyers said made it impossible for them to communicate confidentially with clients.

The controversial policy, under which legal mail was intercepted, photocopied, and then destroyed, had been announced last September as one of a series of new security measures — many without precedent in a state prison setting — intended to prevent the smuggling of drugs into the prisons. Four civil rights groups and a state prison inmate had filed suit in federal court seeking an emergency injunction.

Beginning April 6, the prisons will revert to some variation on the previous system, which did not involve photocopying and relied on individual attorney-identification numbers to track legal mail.

Read more →

‘You’re Going to Let Me Die From This’: Prisoners Fight to Access a Hepatitis-C Cure

January 25, 2019 | The Nation | Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg

On May 15, 2017, after serving 37 years, David Maldonado was released from prison. He had been sentenced to life for a murder he committed when he was 16. But for Maldonado, getting out was about more than freedom; his release might have also saved his life. In 1997, Maldonado was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C—a disease, now curable, that the state of Pennsylvania had refused to treat. “Society really didn’t care whether I lived or died,” he told me recently.

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that infects and inflames the liver; it’s spread through blood, most often via intravenous drug use. Between 75 and 85 percent of those infected with hepatitis C develop chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to liver scarring, liver cancer, cirrhosis, and death. It’s the most deadly infectious disease in the United States, killing around 20,000 people a year—more than the next 60 infectious diseases combined.

Read more →

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

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 →

5,000 inmates with Hepatitis C sued Pa. prisons. Now, they’re on their way to getting treatment

November 20, 2018 | Samantha Melamed | The Philadelphia Inquirer

In 2013, a cure for hepatitis C — a chronic viral infection that, if untreated, can lead to fatal liver disease — was brought to market. But who would get the $100,000 lifesaving treatment? That's been a subject of political and legal battles ever since.

In May 2017, the Wolf administration announced that Pennsylvania would expand Medicaid coverage of the treatment to anyone with hepatitis C, instead of treating only those with signs of liver damage.

Now, through a legal settlement filed for approval Monday in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, approximately 5,000 incarcerated Pennsylvanians who have hepatitis C would also have access to direct-acting antiviral drugs, which are effective in about 95 percent of cases.

Read more →