UnCommon Law is a California non-profit law office whose mission is to help long-term prisoners understand and resolve the factors that contributed to their crimes so that they can safely be released. We work with prisoners for months or years in advance of their parole board hearings, and we represent them in those hearings and in court petitions challenging the parole board and the Governor.

In this video, client Troy Williams and our founder, Keith Wattley, discuss why it’s so difficult for prisoners to rehabilitate themselves in a system built to warehouse them. 

On January 6, 2016 and January 13, 2016, Sam Levin of the East Bay Express produced two powerful pieces on California’s parole consideration process: Part One shows how arbitrary parole decisions needlessly keep life-term prisoners behind bars for decades after they have been rehabilitated; Part Two shows how abuse and insensitivity by parole commissioners can discourage prisoners from openly exploring the traumatic experiences that contributed to their crimes. Both articles feature several of UnCommon Law’s clients, and both highlight the importance of our comprehensive and personal approach to advocacy (see the video accompanying Part One here).  


Our partnership with The New Parkway Theater in Oakland continues.  On April 5, we’re showing John Brown’s Body at San Quentin Prison. This film (screened in the theater; not at San Quentin) shows how prisoners who are thrown together by the shared circumstance of a life sentence can transcend race-based boundaries imposed by the “politics” of California’s most notorious prison to free themselves and each other from the physical and emotional confines of their past. Stay after the film to meet the filmmaker and some of the stars. This event is a fundraiser for UnCommon Law, an Oakland nonprofit that helps life-sentenced prisoners understand how they wound up in prison and how to get out. View the TRAILER.

(Purchase advance tickets online HERE— strongly recommended)

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You can also support our work by making a tax-deductible donation.  Just click the Donate Button on the right or send a check to us at 220 4th Street, Suite 103, Oakland, CA 94607.  Thank you for your continued support.

Keith Wattley, Founder and Executive Director