Advocating for the Incarcerated: Join Our Pro Bono Effort

April 28, 2020

NCAJ, in partnership with the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center and the North Carolina Justice Center, is joining with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services to bring pro bono aid to the state’s incarcerated populations.

View the NCAJ webinar “Advocating for Incarcerated Populations” on our COVID-19 Resources Center.

As of this week, North Carolina prison officials have reported more than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state’s prisons. North Carolina prisons are unequipped to either prevent transmission of COVID-19 among inmates and staff or to isolate and treat individuals who become infected. This combination of close quarters and limited medical capacity create an intolerably dangerous situation, putting detainees, correctional staff and the communities they belong to at greater risk of illness and death.

Due to this unprecedented public health crisis, Prisoner Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm that advocates for the rights of those incarcerated in North Carolina state prisons, is seeking pro bono attorneys and paralegals to help PLS file Motions for Appropriate Relief to amend sentences for people who are particularly vulnerable to infection and/ or have other compelling mitigating factors.

Prisoner Legal Services will:

  • Identify clients who are good candidates for MAR relief based on a combination of factors, including age, percentage of sentence served, type of conviction, and possible medical risk.
  • Assign appropriate cases to pro bono attorneys.
  • Provide training and malpractice insurance to volunteers.
  • Provide templates and clear, step-by-step instructions to pro bono attorneys.
  • Provide ongoing supervision and mentoring as needed.

Pro bono attorneys must:

  • Communicate with their client via letter and phone as instructed by PLS and within one week of having the case assigned.
  • Communicate with the district attorney in the volunteer’s local jurisdiction to find out if they consent to the motion.
  • If the district attorney does not consent, determine whether grounds exist to file the MAR without district attorney support.
  • File the MAR and appear in court for a hearing if required to do so.
  • Communicate with PLS staff about the status of the case.

We need your help! The time to act is now to save lives and protect our communities.

If you are an attorney or paralegal interested in this project, please sign up here. Prior criminal law or litigation experience is helpful but not necessary.