How to Become a Prisoner Advocate


What is a prisoner rights advocate?

Simply put, prisoner rights advocates are people who play a vital role in assuring that inmates across the nation have their rights protected. They are people who dedicate themselves to this cause and work diligently to preserve the law of the land for the free, as well as the imprisoned.

Is a prisoner advocate a volunteer or is it a paid job?

Both. Prisoner advocates may be volunteers or work for pay. Their main function is to help inmates maintain their constitutional rights. Some lawyers do this kind of work on a volunteer basis, while others make a career in this field.

What are the job requirements for a prisoner advocate?

The requirements for a prisoner’s advocate vary depending on the country. To become a legal prisoner’s advocate in the United States, and in order to interpret the law in a common law jurisdiction, one must have an LL.B degree (Bachelor of Laws) and also a Diploma in Legal Practice.

Note: All lawyers who have passed the Bar are permitted to act as Prisoner’s Advocates.

What are some of the specific things that a prisoner’s advocate may become involved with?

A prisoner’s advocate is there to ensure that all of the rights of the prisoner are preserved. These include medical attention/healthcare for prisoners, proper treatment of inmates, counseling, and standing up for a beaten inmate who may be afraid to seek help elsewhere. Prisoner’s advocates also assist prisoners with pre-conviction services, pre-sentence reports, and post-conviction remedies.

Who might be interested in becoming a Prisoner Advocate?

People who are strongly opposed to the death penalty often enter this field. They feel that they are putting some action to their voice. If you are against the death penalty, you may be interested in learning more about this field. You may want to start by getting to know more about a person in prison on a personal level and the life he/she is leading behind bars. By joining a prisoner group on Yahoo, for instance, you may be able to become pen pals with a prisoner. This way you will get to know a real person who is serving a sentence. This will most likely enlighten you and you can then decide if you wish to take things further from there.

Are there groups that protect prisoners’ rights?

Yes, there are groups, PARC for example, that are committed to finding out about and making public all forms of institutionalized abuse or discrimination within the confines of the prison. This includes sexism, racism, ableism (discrimination against the disabled), classism, and heterosexism. These groups work in unity with prisoners and ex-prisoners. They also provide assistance and support to friends and families of those who are or who have been incarcerated. These groups also work toward building strategies and procedures that foster safety in our communities. Prison advocacy groups such as this also work with teachers and activists on prison-related issues.

How can obtain more information about working in this field?

You can begin with the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union of your state. This organization has been in existence since 1920 with their main responsibility being the preservation of human rights under the US Constitution. Here you will find all the information you need about becoming a representative for their organization or becoming a prisoner advocate for an outside agency.

Are there private companies that hire people to be prison advocates?

Yes, there are independent statewide companies that hire Prisoner Rights Advocates. These vary among states; however, all companies maintain the same focus, which is to protect and ensure the constitutional rights of individuals who are incarcerated. You can easily do a search on the Web for companies that are specialists in Prisoners Rights Advocate hiring and training.

Are there other avenues to explore if I want to consider working in this field? Yes, you can check with pro bono lawyers. These are lawyers who work for free or for very little, as a way of volunteering their time and expertise to assist the underprivileged, since often times, these people become victims of the bureaucracy because they cannot afford suitable expert counsel. By contacting a known pro bono lawyer in your area, you should be able to get the name of a Prisoners Right Advocacy establishment near you.

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Posted by: ALICE DAVIS   |   Date: 11-15-2011

Overcrowding in prison? Is this the truly a problem or is California just trying to get more money?
California is screaming that there prison’s are overcrowded and they are gona have to let people out to let more in!
I was dating a guy in 2009, he was out on parole, he was working a full time job at night and when requested would travel 90 miles or so to go and meet his parole officer when he got off work. He was doing everything expected of him! He was living in an apartment with a separate address at his aunts. His Ex-wife was retaliating because he did a child welfare check (advised by his parole officer) on his daughter, because she moved his daughter into a house with a child sex abuser! She contacted his parole officer and lied, stating there was a pistol in his aunt’s house (separate mailing address). They came and searched his apartment and found nothing, then they went and searched his aunt’s house, they found 1 22 round in a box under her bed! And a broken bb gun and an Avon perfume bottle that was shaped as a pistol. His aunt has a pad lock on her bedroom door. Any time that lee was in her house it was locked! He was at work when they did the search; his parole officer decided that she was going to revoke his over the items they found at the separate address! The local police officer Williams, who knew lee was doing good and not breaking any laws, informed the parole officer, that he wasn’t going to go and pick him up at work and risk ruining millions in irrigation pumps and farmers crops. That he would pick him up the next day!
The next day officer Williams picked lee up at home sleeping arrested him and was in the process of taking him to Susanville. Officer Williams told lee that it was wrong and he was going what he was suppose to be doing and that they shouldn’t be violating him over this! Williams’s sergeant called Williams and told him to take lee back home so he did! A day or 2 later the parole officer called lee and told him that she was going to still violate him, that he needed to turn himself in! So lee called Officer Williams and made arrangements to turn himself in! Williams never came to pick up lee. After several attempts to turn him in lee gave up.
So we continued to live our lives, we got married in 2010. He was working, and being a father to a child that is not his blood! Lee has passed several back ground checks for employment, he even got pulled over for a seat belt ticket and came back clear, by and California C.H.P.!
He now has a very good job; he is the sole supporter of his family, me and my 7 yr daughter. He makes almost $21.00 an hour, had medical insurance in Jan. he will be getting vision and dentail insurance for the whole family. Plus he is paying both of our retirements! This job is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our family!!!!
A few weeks ago his aunt called stating that some special apprehension team is looking for lee and he has a warrant for upscounding from the law, they want to send him back to prison for 3 to 6 months for something he didn’t do! If he goes to prison he will lose his job. I will have to move, because the job is providing a house to us! I don’t have a job and I will have to relocate my kids to a different school, because there is NO work in this area! So I’ll have to go and try to get medical and food stamps at California’s expense, so I and my child will have food and medical insurance! Then I’ll have to go and try and find employment, plus pay a baby sitter on miniume wage! There aren’t many jobs in the economy right now! Mean while the state of California will spend more money to lock him up for nothing! My husband passed Federal background checks for jobs. If they send him back to prison for 3 to 6 month he most likely won’t get his job back.
He is a volunteer on the local fire and rescue, and any money he makes on calls is being denoted to the American cancer society in my mother’s name, we lost her in July of 2011.
California taking lee back to prison will do more harm than good! We need some help. I’m sure there are more people out there that have changed their life for the better and are contributing to the community that are being sent back to prison over BS! We really need to get the word out and get people that can help involved! Maybe if we get this out in the open we can get this resolved without lee losing his the best job he will ever have!

And we did try contacting the governor of California but I dont think that he really even read what we sent him

Thanks for listening, Adria and Lee

Posted by: Lee Buckley   |   Date: 11-09-2011

Hi, I posted eariler about becoming a prison advocate and wanted to get some insight as to haw to get funding as a non profit? Also I would like to comment to the last post that Veronica wrote asking how inmates have rights and she did not understand how someone who molest a child or someone who kills a whole family can have rights well Veronica or whatever your name is no disrespect to you however your statements is very judgemental and stereo typical not everyone in prison is a killer or child molester and evenone is entitled to basic human rights whether incarcerated or not regardelss of the crime they committed.

Posted by: T.C. BYRD   |   Date: 08-11-2011

Hi, I currently in the prison advocatcy and wanted to do in the beginning as a profit but now as a non profit , could you please tell me how to obtain funding or grants?

Posted by: T.C. Byrd   |   Date: 08-11-2011

I really don't see how inmates have all the rights they have. They get free health and dental, free education, free meals and a bed to sleep in. Plus, they have television and radios. If there is anyone who needs help it's our kids not these inmates. They gave up their rights the moment they committed the crimes they did. They get institutionalized because they get spoiled with all the things that are given to them. Please explain to me how an inmate who killed an entire family or molested a child and ruined that life has rights? I don't get it.

Posted by: Veronica Lara   |   Date: 07-05-2011

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