Prisoners' Legal Services of New York Albany
- New York
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS) was founded in 1976 under the sponsorship of the New York State Bar Association in response to the devastating 1971 Attica riot. The PLS founders sought to address one of the major reasons for the riot – the lack of prisoners’ access to the courts and the almost complete absence of attorneys to present their complaints in a legal forum. Established initially through a federal grant, for the past 40 years PLS has been funded almost exclusively by the State of New York.
PLS has four regional offices located in proximity to all New York State prisons: Albany, Ithaca, Plattsburgh and Buffalo. Currently PLS employs a total staff of 23 with 15 attorneys. PLS’ mandate is to provide civil legal services to low-income incarcerated individuals. PLS’ mission is “to provide high quality, effective legal representation and assistance to indigent prisoners, to help prisoners to secure their civil and human rights and to advocate for more humane prisons and for a more humane criminal justice system.”
PLS provides critical civil legal services to more than 51,000 incarcerated individuals confined in 54 New York State prisons. PLS provides assistance on issues associated with conditions of confinement including solitary confinement, medical and mental health care, education and programming, visitation and jail time and sentencing. PLS also helps incarcerated individuals use non-violent ways to resolve disputes, thereby reducing tensions and hostility and helping create a safer environment for prisoners and correctional staff alike.