​Anatomy of A Riot (Click on image to view)


The staff of Prisoners’ Legal Services is extremely concerned about the health and safety of everyone in DOCCS custody during this pandemic. PLS, other prisoners’ rights advocacy organizations and Legislators have been in regular contact with DOCCS, the Board of Parole and Governor Cuomo’s office about our concerns, particularly with respect to reducing the prison population by selectively releasing people who are close to their release dates, medically compromised or in custody due to technical parole violations:

Letters to Governor:

Letter to Governor 3-19-2020 Re COVID Response for Incarcerated Population

Letter to Governor Cuomo From PLS Board

Letters to Board of Parole:

Letter to Board of Parole 3-20-2020

Letters to DOCCS:

Pandemic Letter to DOCCS 3.4.2020

PRP and PLS Letter to NYS DOCCS

Letters to EOIR and Batavia:

Letter to Batavia from PLS and VLP

Letter from PLS VLP to EOIR

We have also demanded that DOCCS take immediate measures to reduce the spread of the virus in the prisons by providing regular access to soap, clean towels, cleaning supplies, and hot water. We have also asked DOCCS to tell us what protocols the Department has adopted to 1) screen staff for the virus and 2) advise staff with respect to the actions they should take if they become infected.

It is likely that DOCCS and Governor Cuomo have adopted such protocols, but unfortunately, they have not provided them to us.

We regrettably do not have more information to report at this time. Updates about the situation will be reported here and in Pro Se. Please know that PLS and other legal organizations are weighing options for next steps and that we are aware of and concerned about the health risks that incarcerated individuals face at this time.


Jones et al v. Wolf Press Release

2020.3.25_Jones et al v. Wolf_WDNY-20-CV-361_COVID-19 Emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus;

2020.3.26_Jones et al v. Wolf_WDNY-20-CV-361_Memorandum of Law in Support of TRO Motion with supporting exhibits

2020.3.26_Jones et al v. Wolf_WDNY-20-CV-361_Notice of TRO Motion


As you know, DOCCS suspended all personal visits on March 14, 2020.  In place of visits, DOCCS is providing:

five (5) free stamps per week for use in accordance with Directive #4422, “Inmate Correspondence Program;”
two (2) free secure messages per week via electronic tablet; and
one (1) free phone call per week in accordance with Directive #4423 “Inmate Telephone Calls.”

We have urged DOCCS to expand further access to stamps, emails, and phone calls during the suspension of visits.  Specifically, we have called upon DOCCS to provide unlimited postage, emails and phone calls without charge.

Changes in State Statutes of Limitations and Court Filing Deadlines

For those individuals contemplating litigation and/or presently pursuing litigation pro se, very important actions have been taken which have significant effects upon state court filing deadlines.  For more information, click here.  

Other helpful links:

​CDC:  Resources for Correctional and Detention Facilities

WHO: Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention (2020)

DOCCSSuspensions, Restrictions & Cancellations In Response to COVID-19

Posted 3/25/2020, Edited 3/26/2020


Promoting justice, fair treatment and humane conditions since 1976.

Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York (PLS) is a non-profit legal services organization founded in 1976 to provide indigent incarcerated New Yorkers access to the courts.
There are over 51,000 individuals incarcerated in 54 prisons across New York State and PLS responds to more than 10,000 requests for assistance annually.
Our mission is to provide high quality, effective legal representation and assistance to indigent prisoners, to help them to secure their civil and human rights, and to advocate for humane prisons and for a more humane criminal justice system.

For an overview of the reasons why PLS was created and insight into why an organization like PLS is vital to New York State's system of criminal and civil justice, take 15 minutes to watch the short film : Anatomy of a Riot.