Resources: PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books

PARC corresponds with and mails a directory of these resources to prisoners, their friends and family members. We are often the first point of contact for people to connect with prisoners' rights organizations, community organizations, prison literature and arts projects, family and visiting resources, health care and legal resources, parole and pre-release resources, and the prison abolition movement.

Download a PDF copy of the 2022 edition linked here.

Resource Category
A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual

NEW RELEASE! The 12th EDITION is here!
A Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual (12th Ed, 2020, 1520 pages, $30) is a handbook of legal rights and procedures designed to inform prisoners of their rights and how use to judicial process to secure these rights on both the federal and state level, with an emphasis on New York State law. It also has published the following supplements: 1) on Louisiana state law; 2) on Texas state law; and 3) on Immigration and consular access, containing information about the immigration law consequences of criminal convictions for people who are not U.S. Citizens. Individual chapters are also available for download. For incarcerated persons, the 12th Edition of the main JLM is $30; supplements range from $15-25 by state.

The Manual is not downloadable from its website, and loved ones can send you specific chaptors. For non-prisoners, the main JLM is $140 and supplements range from $50-100.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, please expect additional delays in delivery of the JLM. They are working as hard as they can—with a limited team—to respond to orders of the JLM as soon as possible

PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books
Battling the Administration: An Inmate’s Guide to a Successful Lawsuit

Battling the Administration (David J. Meister, April 2014, 566 pages, $24.95 + $5 S&H) is a self-help manual that guides readers through the complex U.S. civil court system, teaches them how to pursue a lawsuit in the face of the constraints imposed by incarceration, and enables a successful outcome for the prisoner's civil rights lawsuit. The book includes extensive case-law citations and advice on organizing, investigating and prosecuting a case. Know your civil rights and how to defend them in court. Has not been updated since 2014, so research what the lower courts have said about the Supreme Court precedents listed; the advice on preparation and writing skills are still very relevant for any prison-based litigator.

PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books
Exoneree Diaries

Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity (Alison Flowers, 2016, $18.95 +$2.50 S&H hardcover; $12.56 for softcover + S&H, use coupon code EXONEREE40 for a 40% discount). Through intimate portraits of four exonerated prisoners, investigative journalist Alison Flowers explores what happens to innocent people once released from the jailhouse doors into the unknown. As she tells each exoneree's powerful story, Flowers vividly shows that release from prison, though sometimes joyous and hopeful, is not a Hollywood ending-or an ending at all. An exoneree's first unshackled steps are the beginning of a new journey full of turmoil and uncertainty. Flowers also sheds new light on the collateral damage of wrongful convictions on families and communities, challenging deeper problems of mass incarceration and the criminal justice system.

PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books
Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook - 6th Ed., 2021

The Jailhouse Lawyers Handbook: How to Bring a Federal Lawsuit to Challenge Violations of Your Rights in Prison

NEW EDITION! Published jointly by the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights, explains how a prisoner can start a lawsuit in federal court to fight against mistreatment and bad conditions in prison. This handbook is a free resource for people in prison who wish to file a federal lawsuit addressing poor conditions in prison or abuse by prison staff. It also contains limited general information about the United States legal system. Has excellent explanation of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Essential resource for any jailhouse lawyer.  Last updated in 2021.  To receive a paperbound copy, mail a request to the above address and wait at least 2 months for return.  Requests are bundled and sent only several times per year.  If no response after 3 months, write to the National NLG Prison Law Project for a copy: P.O. Box 1266; New York, NY, 10009.

The Handbook is also available downloaded from their website ( Request an outside source to print and mail it to you. List of chapter headings: (1) How to Use the JLH; (2) Overview of Types of Lawsuits and the Prison Litigation Reform Act' 3) Your Rights in Prison; (4) Who to Sue and What to Ask for; (5) How to Start Your Lawsuit; (6) What Happens After You File Your Suit; (7) The Legal System and Legal Research; and Appendices A-N.

PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books
Prison Legal News Manuals and Litigation Guides

The following are available through Prison Legal News, PO Box 1151 Lake Worth, FL 33460, 561-360-2523

  1. The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct. By Alissa Hull. $49.95 + $6 S&H. Latest offering in Prison Legal News Publishing’s Citebook series. Like the other Citebooks in the series, it’s designed to help pro se prisoner litigants to identify and raise viable claims for potential habeas corpus relief. This invaluable tool contains several hundred case citations and descriptions, saving readers many hours of research in identifying winning arguments to successfully challenge their conviction. It’s conveniently and logically organized into 16 chapters, beginning with a general overview of prosecutorial misconduct and progresses topically to discussing and providing case citations to specific issues such as Brady considerations and discriminatory jury selection.

  2. Prison Education Guide.Christopher Zoukis, 2016, 280 pages, $49.95 + $6 S&H. This exceptional book provides the reader with step-by-step instructions to find the right educational program, enroll in courses and complete classes to meet their academic goals.

  3. The Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual. Dan Manville, 2nd Ed, 2015, 368 pages, $49.95 + $6 S&H. This is designed to inform prisoners of their rights when faced with the consequences of a disciplinary hearing. This authoritative and comprehensive work educates prisoners about their rights throughout this process and helps guide them at all stages, from administrative hearing through litigation. This invaluable how-to guide offers step by step information for both state and federal prisoners and includes a 50 state analysis of relevant case law.

  4. The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. Brandon Sample, 2nd Ed, 2016, 275 pages, $49.95 +$6 S&H. The book is also practical and useful. It provides invaluable resources, including templates and forms, that explain what, when, where and how to file for habeas relief. It contains readable summaries of the relevant laws and rules and plain-English explanations of some of the inherently mystifying concepts of habeas law, such as “procedural default” and “certificates of appealability” and the “AEDPA,” along with practical advice.

  5. Prisoners' Self Help Litigation Manual. John Boston & Dan Manville, 4th Ed, 2010, 928 pages, $54.95 + S&H. This is an indispensable guide for prisoners and prisoner advocates seeking to understand the rights guaranteed to prisoners by law and how to protect conditions of confinement, civil liberties in prison, procedural due process, the legal system, how to litigate, conducting effective legal research, and writing legal documents.  Also available on Ebay and third party sellers at a discount.

  6. Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide For Inmates. Robert E. Toone, 2nd Ed, 2009, 325 pages, $10 + $6 S&H. This is an easy to read, plain language guide prisoners can use to identify and litigate federal civil rights claims against prison officials. Over 100 pages are dedicated to the different kinds of constitutional and statutory violations prisoners frequently encounter while incarcerated. Has not been updated since 2009; be sure to check case cites for updated case law.

PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books
The California Prison and Parole Law Handbook

The California Prison and Parole Law Handbook (Heather MacKay & Prison Law Office, 5th Ed, 2019, 1170 pages) is newly updated in 2019! It is a comprehensive overview of the laws and policies affecting people in state prisons and on parole in California. Includes extensive discussion of the administrative appeals and court actions that people can use to protect their rights and to seek remedies. 19 chapters, plus resource lists, forms, and sample legal documents. It is available for download for free online at Paper copies for people in custody are $20 and $200 for all others. Prices include tax, shipping and handling. The Prison Law Office has a monthly drawing for free copies of The Handbook for people in custody. To be put in the pool, a person should send a copy of their trust account statement showing that they have not had more than $25 in their account in the past six months to Prison Law Office at above address.

Chapters include: Administrative Appeals; Rights of People in Prison; Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Use of Excessive Force, and Protection from Physical and Sexual Abuse; Classification, Housing and Programs; Prison Rule Violations; Placement in Segregation; Medical, Mental Health, and Dental Care; Determinate Sentences, Restitution, Time Credits, and Release Dates; Life Parole Suitability, Other Board of Parole Hearings Proceedings, Commutations, and Pardons; Detainers and Extradition; Parole and Post-Release Community Supervision; MDO and SVP Commitments; Workers Compensation and Other Benefits; Immigration Issues for People in Prison; Direct Appeals of Criminal Convictions; State Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Writ of Mandate/Prohibition; Federal Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus; Federal Civil Rights (“Section 1983”) Lawsuits; State Tort Lawsuits; and Legal Research, Writing, and Strategies.


PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books
Your Life on the List

"Your Life on the List," by Derek Logue, is a state by state by state survival guide for those forced to register upon release from incarceration. The latest edition is available via Amazon for $14.95.  It can also be downloaded (free of charge) by going to where there is a vast amount of information for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, including housing lists, information on legal issues, and newsletters.

PARC Recommended Legal and Educational Prison Books