Nebraska

May 10, 2016:

“I applied to work as a law librarian for my work assignment. I was required to take this certification test, which I blew through it thanks to my paralegal certificate, and I was hired shortly thereafter. I worked in that position for four months before I was fired. I clashed with my supervisor from Day 1; she wanted to provide the least assistance possible to each inmate, especially with regard to disciplinary hearing representation. I was warned to do less, but that wasn’t right, and I continued to help to the best of my ability. At one point, my boss threatened to refer me to the county attorney for prosecution for the misdemeanor charge of practicing law without a license! It was then I realized the harassment was because she was afraid of me and what I could do…which only encouraged me more

Once I left the official job, I doubled down on helping inmates here. I took my services ‘underground’, working in the law library on the weekends and the librarian’s days off. I‘ve developed a partnership with another like-minded jailhouse lawyer and together we have helped more than 100 inmates in the past two years with everything from disciplinary hearings to administrative challenges of classification and programming to S1983 claims, post-convictions, appellate filings, and habeas corpus efforts. We’ve had some success in both state and federal court, getting at least one convictions overturned and an award of more than $250,000 for an inmate’s injuries caused by negligence medical care.

The process of legal work here is very difficult. The library has limited resources, outdated manuals, and few hours which it’s open. To compound this, the librarian is a former disciplinary officer and keeps the inmates at a disadvantage intentionally; she restricts her law clerks from doing more than handing out forms and logging inmates into research computers as well as keeping the ‘current’ information resources in her office (despite the fact she believes current means 2012…). Despite these setbacks, it is the best way I can think of to help other inmates and productivity pass my time. I enjoy what I do, in spite of the harassment from the administration, because I know the feeling of being helpless and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way because of the ‘bullies’ who run the NE Dept. of Correctional Services.”