Prisoner Rights & Resources

Welcome to the “Prisoners Rights & Resources” section. This section contains links to a variety of national resources related to corrections and the rights of those incarcerated. To suggest a resource for this list, please contact us.

American Civil Liberties Union
The official Prison Rights website of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the only national litigation program on behalf of prisoners.
Rights of Inmates
A comprehensive overview of the constitutional rights of those incarcerated.
National Legal Aid and Defender Association
A non-profit organization dedicated to representing indigent defendants.
Prison Activist Resource Center
A source for progressive and radical information on prisons and the criminal prosecution system.
Legal Aid Society of New York
Advocating for constitutional and humane conditions of confinement for prisoners in the New York City and State correctional systems.
Prisoners and Prisoners’ Rights
An overview of inmates’ rights, and links to a menu of related resources.
Justice Denied
A magazine devoted to helping people who have been wrongly convicted in the U.S.
Partnership for Safety and Justice
The Partnership for Safety and Justice (formerly The Western Prison Project) publishes a prisoner support directory.
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
The official website of the only fully-staffed national organization exclusively devoted to abolishing capital punishment.
Stop Prisoner Rape
A Chicago-based organization providing legal and educational services, to help imprisoned mothers preserve their families.
Preventing Prison Rape
Addressing the epidemic in the country’s prison facilities.
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Website of an organization seeking to end the abusive treatment of prisoners.
HIV & Hepatitis Education Prison Project
Concerned with educating and informing on infectious disease in corrections.
National Ass’n of the Deaf – Rights of Deaf Inmates
An overview of rights and remedies for deaf inmates.
The Eighth Amendment
A look at the source of a prisoner’s constitutional rights.
Death Penalty Information Center
A non-profit organization serving the media and the public, with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment.
Books Not Bars
Working to expose and end the over-incarceration of youth
Prisoner Action Coalition
Advocating to improve conditions in California prisons, and assist individual prisoners with legal matters.
Equal Justice, USA
Mobilizing and educating citizens around crime and punishment, including racial, economic, and political biases.
The Other Side of the Wall
A collection of news, articles, and resources related to prisons, prisoners, and the death penalty.
Prison Legal News
An independent publication that reports, reviews, and analyzes court rulings and news related to prisoner rights and prison issues.
Jewish Prisoner Services International
Providing direct spiritual, outreach, and advocacy services for Jewish prisoners and their loved ones.
The Sentencing Project
A national leader in the development of alternative sentencing programs and in research and advocacy on criminal justice policy.
Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (C.U.R.E.)
Nation-wide grass roots organization dedicated to reducing crime through reform of the criminal justice system.
Native American Indian Spiritual Freedom in Prison
Discusses recent cases and provides links to related resources.
Prisoner Advocacy Network
Prisoners and advocates united for human rights.

Introduction to Federal Voting Rights Laws

The Voting Rights Act, adopted initially in 1965 and extended in 1970, 1975, and 1982, is generally considered the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress. The Act codifies and effectuates the 15th Amendment’s permanent guarantee that, throughout the nation, no person shall be denied the right to vote on account of race or color. In addition, the Act contains several special provisions that impose even more stringent requirements in certain jurisdictions throughout the country.

Adopted at a time when African Americans were substantially disfranchised in many Southern states, the Act employed measures to restore the right to vote that intruded in matters previously reserved to the individual states. Section 4 ended the use of literacy requirements for voting in six Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia) and in many counties of North Carolina, where voter registration or turnout in the 1964 presidential election was less than 50 percent of the voting-age population. Under the terms of Section 5 of the Act, no voting changes were legally enforceable in these jurisdictions until approved either by a three-judge court in the District of Columbia or by the Attorney General of the United States. Other sections authorized the Attorney General to appoint federal voting examiners who could be sent into covered jurisdictions to ensure that legally qualified persons were free to register for federal, state, and local elections, or to assign federal observers to oversee the conduct of elections.

Congress determined that such a far-reaching statute only in response to compelling evidence of continuing interference with attempts by African American citizens to exercise their right to vote. As the Supreme Court put it in its 1966 decision upholding the constitutionality of the Act:

Congress had found that case-by-case litigation was inadequate to combat wide-spread and persistent discrimination in voting, because of the inordinate amount of time and energy required to overcome the obstructionist tactics invariably encountered in these lawsuits. After enduring nearly a century of systematic resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment, Congress might well decide to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims. South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 327-28 (1966).

At the time the Act was first adopted, only one-third of all African Americans of voting age were on the registration rolls in the specially covered states, while two-thirds of eligible whites were registered. Now black voter registration rates are approaching parity with that of whites in many areas, and Hispanic voters in jurisdictions added to the list of those specially covered by the Act in 1975 are not far behind. Enforcement of the Act has also increased the opportunity of black and Latino voters to elect representatives of their choice by providing a vehicle for challenging discriminatory election methods such as at-large elections, racially gerrymandered districting plans, or runoff requirements that may dilute minority voting strength. Virtually excluded from all public offices in the South in 1965, black and Hispanic voters are now substantially represented in the state legislatures and local governing bodies throughout the region.