It’s not always easy to locate quality legal books about prison law or prisoners’ rights. For starters, the field is a highly specialized one in which many like to call themselves experts, but few are worthy of such a designation. To make matters worse, lives depend on what is read and put into application. Even from a practical level, law books are often so expensive that simply purchasing several of them in pursuit of the right set is plainly cost prohibitive.
In an effort to cut through all of the blatant self-promotion and other unworthy antics, presented below are seven best buys in the prison law and prisoners’ rights arenas. Every criminal defense attorney, prison consultant, and American prisoner should have a copy of each and every one of these books. After all, their lives or the lives of their clients might just depend on it.
1. Georgetown Law Journal: Forty-Second Annual Review of Criminal Procedure, 2013. The bedrock text for incarcerated litigants and their attorneys seeking to challenge criminal convictions and sentences, “the Georgetown” — as it is commonly and affectionately called in the prison litigation industry — is a must have. An annually updated, quality legal text, the Georgetown presents the most recent developments in criminal case law. While focused mostly on federal practice, its chapters encompass everything from initial search and arrest to trial and even all the way to post-conviction motions. This book is an entire law library, but all within one cover.
2. Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual (4th Edition) by John Boston and Daniel E. Manville. Considered by many to be the definitive work on prisoners’ rights, the Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual is exactly what the title suggests. This massive book provides a blueprint for litigating in court, even if this litigation must be initiated in a prison cell. It not only presents the actual legal rights of prisoners, but also how to enforce those rights in any court in the land, and includes well-drafted sample pleadings. This book is a must-have for anyone in prison and everyone who has incarcerated clients.