What We Do

By providing high-quality advocacy and education, we equip prisoners and their supporters to transform their life prospects and to bring about the world in which they want to live. Our ultimate aim is to reduce the number of adults and children entangled in the criminal justice system. 

Lifer Hearings

We handle lifer hearings in three ways:

  • FIRST, as a nonprofit organization, we provide quality representation at reduced rates for lifers and their families. Our team operates with integrity and open lines of communication, ensuring our clients know we are partners with them in developing effective strategies for their cases. We help clients establish an administrative record in their parole hearings that will either result in a parole grant or, if the Board denies parole, provide a solid chance at success in the courts. 
  • SECONDthrough partnerships with law schools (including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Hastings), we provide free or low-cost representation for indigent lifers who are located within a reasonable distance and are willing to work with law students. In this way, we make quality legal assistance available to prisoners who must otherwise rely on Board-appointed counsel, and we also give law students a richly rewarding, client-centered learning opportunity.
  • THIRD, we challenge decisions by the Board and the Governor in court. Having represented thousands of lifers in individual and class action litigation over a dozen years, we have learned the most effective ways to advocate for clients in the Superior Court, Court of Appeal, and California Supreme Court when challenging the Board’s denial of parole or the Governor’s reversal of a parole grant.

Click HERE to email us regarding possible representation.

Lifer Trainings

We conduct three kinds of lifer trainings:

  • For criminal defense attorneys, we provide training on what a “life” sentence really means for clients — including the basics on prison classification, housing, programs, and parole. Most importantly, we help counsel understand actions they can take during and immediately after trial to dramatically improve their clients’ chances of being granted parole when they become eligible. We have held these trainings in Alameda, Sacramento, San Mateo, and San Joaquin Counties.
  • For attorneys and law students representing lifers in parole hearings, we partner with law schools across California to provide “Lifer School,” where participants learn the ins and outs of the parole consideration process and get updated on recent developments in the Board’s procedures and in the courts. The get expert advice from panels of experienced attorneys, psychologists and others on how to help clients overcome the biggest obstacles to parole. (Although the Board appoints counsel to represent indigent lifers in their hearings, it provides no formal training for these attorneys — but we do.)
  • For lifers and their families, we provide seminars — both inside and outside prison — to help focus their efforts as their parole hearings approach. We help them develop strategies for overcoming past problems with the Board, and for establishing strong plans for residence and employment upon parole.

Click HERE to contact us about a training seminar for your office or organization.