41 State St., Albany, NY 12207 | Suite M112
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS) was founded in 1976 under the sponsorship of the New York State Bar Association in response to the devastating 1971 Attica riot. The PLS founders sought to address one of the major reasons for the riot – the lack of prisoners’ access to the courts and the almost complete absence of attorneys to present their complaints in a legal forum. Established initially through a federal grant, PLS has been funded almost exclusively by the State of New York during the past 40 years.
PLS has four regional offices located in close proximity to all New York State prisons: Albany, Ithaca, Plattsburgh and Buffalo. The provision of civil legal services to low-income persons is PLS’ mandate. PLS’ mission is “to provide high quality, effective legal representation and assistance to indigent prisoners, to help prisoners to secure their civil and human rights and to advocate for more humane prisons and for a more humane criminal justice system.”
PLS provides critical civil legal services to over 51,000 inmates confined in 54 New York State prisons – prisons that are located across the State from Buffalo to Albany and from the Canadian border near Plattsburgh to New York City. PLS provides prisoners with non-violent ways to resolve disputes thereby reducing tensions and hostility and helping create a safer environment for prisoners and correctional staff alike.
PLS receives over 10,000 requests for assistance annually and we answer every letter we receive. In order to do this, we have over 75 client educational memos that address specific areas of the law. We also publish a bi-monthly newsletter, Pro Se, which is distributed to over 8,500 New York State prisoners at no cost. Pro Se advises prisoners of changes in the law, publishes practice pieces to assist them in complying with statutory and regulatory requirements, and explains technical aspects of various laws affecting prisoners.
By counseling and advising prisoners regarding their rights and the merits of their claims for the past 40+ years, PLS has earned the trust and respect of incarcerated New Yorkers, their families and loved ones.