About Us

The Prison Advocacy Network (PAN) is a volunteer network of activists, attorneys, legal workers, medical professionals, and law students. We are supervised by attorneys and thus operate under attorney-client privilege and can use legal mail. PAN is an advocacy network, not a litigation team.

We offer internships and have many volunteer opportunities. Read about them here.

Mission

Through correspondence, solidarity, co-education, and advocacy, PAN partners with incarcerated people to improve conditions for imprisoned activists and those experiencing grave injustice inside California prisons and to promote accountability of the people and institutions charged with their care.

Scope

PAN provides non-litigation support. We advocate for an individual through the exhaustion of administrative remedies, or until a person finds legal representation. We support in building a record of evidence for jailhouse lawyers or other litigators to show deliberate indifference, failure to protect, or medical malpractice.

Who We Are

We are an all-volunteer organization. We have 6 volunteer attorney mentors who train, mentor, and supervise advocates. The advocates are responsible for working directly with correspondents to meet identified needs and contacting prison or state officials. Many advocates have very little experience with the criminal system or CDCr’s many challenges, and are generally not attorneys. No experience with the criminal or legal system is required to become an advocate. We view this work as a partnership, where we utilize outside resources available to us, and you educate us about your experiences and knowledge of the prison system. We do not share personal information or contact prison officials on our inside-partners’ behalf without explicit permission. PAN does not charge for services. PAN will cover most, if not all, mail costs and fees for accessing records.

Who We Work With

There is a huge need for advocacy work in CDCr, but we seek to work with people facing the worst conditions while still fighting for their and others’ rights. We only work with people in CDCr, not in other prison systems or jails. We prioritize people in any kind of isolation (including disciplinary, administrative, and gender-based segregation), jailhouse lawyers, those suffering retaliation as a result of their activism, and those with serious unmet medical needs. We also support family members of those on the inside who are also experiencing retaliation. PAN calls the individuals on the inside who we support correspondents.

What We Do

Our volunteers are trained in advocacy strategies and can assist with: requesting C-FILE and medical records; performing basic legal, medical, or similar research; assistance with internal appeals; writing letters to the Warden, Ombudsman, medical staff, and Inspector General; classification issues especially related to solitary or ad-seg status; overturning wrongful 115s; property issues; help preparing for parole; psych reports; making copies; calling prison officials; keeping copies of documentation of prison abuses; and supplying resources and information.

We offer internships and have many volunteer opportunities. Read about them here.

Intake/Referral Process

Referrals often come through people on the outside who have direct contact with potential Correspondents. We have an intake form on our website that people can use to make referrals: Intake Form. We also have a paper intake form that people on the inside can fill out and mail to us in order to refer themselves or another person. If you would like an intake form, write to us at the address above and request one. We train and pair people twice a year (September and February). Occasionally, we are also able to match people during other months of the year. Due to the nature of the mail system, and because we usually review cases and match correspondents only twice a year, there will be delays in communication with PAN until you are matched.

For more information, read our brochure or contact pan@nlgsf.org.

History

PAN was the response to a call to action during the California hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013. Family members and strike leaders told the National Lawyers Guild that they needed legal advocacy on behalf of movement leaders in prison. In 2014, we held strategic planning sessions with allied organizations to investigate prisoners’ needs. These formed the foundation of the Prisoner Advocacy Network: a group of  people, not only attorneys, who understand the unique issues facing prisoners and can navigate the administrative complexities of the California Department of Corrections (CDCr).

PAN officially launched in 2015 with a community training, opened six cases and set up a mentorship model.  Attorneys supervise outside advocates paired with incarcerated matches we call correspondents, to advocate for their legal and medical rights. In 2016, PAN began partnerships with Hastings and Berkeley law schools, as well volunteer physicians to meet growing needs for medical advocacy.