Prison Grievance Help

New Illustrated Novel by Intrepid Prisoner Advocate to Help Inmates

What if you were in prison and needed help overcoming an unlawful prison condition? Maybe you are sick but can't get to see a doctor or were denied your medication. Maybe the only property you own was lost in a midnight inmate bus transfer. Perhaps you were a victim of violence or sexual abuse by a guard.

Prisons systems require that a prisoner "exhaust administrative remedies" before asking a court to help. What's that mean? Where does a prisoner turn? (Note:PAPA adds: required due to the Prison Legal Reform Act about 1993 aka PLRA)

A new book, Prison Grievances: when to write, how to write, will teach prisoners the rules and the ropes. Best news: it is an illustrated novel (like a comic book) and written on the 5th-grade level. It even has checklists at the end to help prisoners organize their facts. Even better news: it is priced so that families can afford to send it to inmates. ($10 through Amazon.)

Author Terri LeClercq, Ph.D., taught Legal Writing at the University of Texas School of Law for 23 years. She had previously published texts for students and for practicing attorneys. But this book steps outside academia to where it is needed most: the prison systems. During the ten years Terri researched and wrote, she collaborated with judges and clerks, grievance officers in the prison system, readability experts, and inmate family groups.

"Terri has done a tremendous amount of work to create this great resource for prisoners and their families," said Scott Medlock, Director of TCRP's Prisoners' Rights Program. "What should be a simple way for prisoners to have their complaints heard is actually often very confusing, and it is difficult for prisoners to protect their rights. Prison Grievances will be a great asset to Texas prisoners."

Terri has long been a friend of the Texas Civil Rights Project, a fellow traveler for justice, and an outstanding advocate for prisoners' rights. Her interest in prison reform developed from listening to law clerks and formerly incarcerated individuals. Inmates need writing advice, she came to understand in way for which she could use her skills.

Though the book focuses on grievances in the Texas prison system, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, it also includes basic advice on how to protect your rights in Texas county jails. TCRP has created other resources, with Terri's help, specific to the largest county jails in Texas. "Each prison or jail system has its own grievance system," said Medlock. "It's very important for prisoners to learn the rules in the facility where they are locked up."