Protecting Your Health and Safety: A Litigation Guide For Inmates

Protecting Your Health & Safety (Robert E. Toone, 2nd Ed, 2009, 325 pages, $10 + $6 S&H) 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. Topics discussed include the First to Fourteenth Amendments, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. Each issue, whether it may be First Amendment retaliation or a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, is addressed in laymen’s terms and supported by case citations from federal district courts, federal courts of appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Difficult concepts like deliberate indifference are simplified in just seven pages, giving you what you need to know to make out a cognizable Eighth Amendment claim. Another 130 pages discuss how to write a complaint, seek in forma pauperis status, ask for appointment of counsel, respond to motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment, conduct discovery, and even present your case at trial. Even procedural issues such as exhaustion of administrative remedies are addressed, helping to avoid dismissal at the pleading stage. A glossary of commonly used legal terms is also included, along with a directory of addresses where to file a federal civil rights suit in each judicial district.

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