Programs & Projects

Projects powered by our
communities.

The need for progressive resistance – and protections for those who choose to resist – is greater now than ever. NLGSF’s members bring their experiences and deep knowledge of legal issues to develop innovative and important projects that support vulnerable communities.

Bay Area Anti Repression Committee

The Bay Area Anti-Repression Committee (ARC) stands against political repression and is in solidarity with all those who challenge the state, capitalism, white supremacy, and all other forms of systemic oppression. We provide support for actions that are anti-racist, anti-patriarchal, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist. Our work comes in the form of education, information and referrals.We work directly with the National Lawyers Guild SF chapter to provide court and jail support as well as manage a bail fund that we use to bail out people arrested at actions and demonstrations. Priority is given  to those who are the most at risk of being targeted – Black and Brown people, transgender people – and those who do not have the resources to post their own bail. ARC maintains this bail fund so we can serve as a community resource and as an integral aspect in building a culture of solidarity. We believe that extending solidarity to those that the state criminalizes the most is a basic and practical assault on white supremacy, both within our movements and in society in general. We see our work as part of the larger struggle of abolishing prisons and police.

Prisoner Advocacy Network

The Prison Advocacy Network (PAN) is a volunteer network of activists, attorneys, legal workers, and law students. We are supervised by attorneys and thus operate under attorney-client privilege and can use legal mail. PAN is an advocacy network, not a litigation team.

Who We Are
We are an all-volunteer organization. We have 5 volunteer attorney mentors who train, mentor, and supervise advocates. The advocates are responsible for working directly with correspondents to meet identified needs and contacting prison or state officials. Many advocates have very little experience with the criminal system or CDCr’s many challenges, and are generally not attorneys. No experience with the criminal or legal system is required to become an advocate. We view this work as a partnership, where we utilize outside resources available to us, and you educate us about your experiences and knowledge of the prison system. We do not share personal information or contact prison officials on our inside-partners’ behalf without explicit permission. PAN does not charge for services. PAN will cover most, if not all, mail costs and fees for accessing records.
Who We Work With
There is a huge need for advocacy work in CDCr, but we seek to work with people facing the worst conditions while still fighting for their and others’ rights. We only work with people in CDCr, not in other prison systems or jails. We prioritize people in any kind of isolation (including disciplinary, administrative, and gender-based segregation), jailhouse lawyers, those suffering retaliation as a result of their activism, and those with serious unmet medical needs. We also support family members of those on the inside who are also experiencing retaliation. PAN calls the individuals on the inside who we support correspondents.
What We Do
Our volunteers are trained in advocacy strategies and can assist with: requesting C-FILE and medical records; performing basic legal, medical, or similar research; assistance with internal appeals; writing letters to the Warden, Ombudsman, medical staff, and Inspector General; classification issues especially related to solitary or ad-seg status; overturning wrongful 115s; property issues; help preparing for parole; psych reports; making copies; calling prison officials; keeping copies of documentation of prison abuses; and supplying resources and information.
Intake/Referral Process
Referrals often come through people on the outside who have direct contact with potential Correspondents. We have an intake form on our website that people can use to make referrals: Intake Form. We also have a paper intake form that people on the inside can fill out and mail to us in order to refer themselves or another person. If you would like an intake form, write to us at the address above and request one. We train and pair people twice a year (September and February). Occasionally, we are also able to match people during other months of the year. Due to the nature of the mail system, and because we usually review cases and match correspondents only twice a year, there will be delays in communication with PAN until you are matched.

For more information, read our brochure or contact pan@nlgsf.org.

Donate to PAN

Our work depends largely on individual donations. To support the work of PAN, please consider making a donation at: paypal.me/prisoneradvocacy.

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We Know Our Rights

We Know Our Rights is a multimedia video toolkit for people dealing with law enforcement, produced by NLGSF and independent producers April Martin and Lucia Palmarini.

Designed to equip communities with practical information to protect themselves from unlawful arrests through tools that spark conversation, education and online engagement, We Know Our Rights is an important tool to help build our collective resistance across the country.

Derechos is the first installment of We Know Our Rights. Derechos, comprised of three short vignettes, depicts scenarios based upon actual encounters between immigrants and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Filmed with a cast and crew that is 80% LatinX, the vignettes in Derechos portray tense interactions with ICE agents and illustrate how to best respond when faced with intimidating and/or threatening situations.

Ver el tráiler:

Watch the trailer:

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For more information on how to partner with us to provide promotion, distribution and outreach, please visit:

Programs

NLGSF works closely with coalitions and working groups to strengthen movement building and resistance in the Bay Area. Below are two programs that we are currently helping coordinate:

Immigration Court Observation Program

The Immigration Court Observation Program (ICOP) of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Chapter seeks to bring greater transparency and accountability to immigration court by training volunteers to attend and observe immigration court hearings and document any violations of immigrants’ due process rights. 

Immigration Court Observation Program (ICOP)

The Immigration Court Observation Program (ICOP) trains law students and other volunteers to attend and observe detained immigration court bond and master calendar hearings and to document violations of immigrants’ due process rights. Observation is particularly needed now because many of the judges in San Francisco Immigration Court are recent appointees. Although immigration court hearings are open to the public, few people attend to observe these proceedings. There is no right to public counsel in immigration court with limited exceptions and, therefore, only 15% of immigrants in detention are represented by attorneys. This means that the vast majority of immigrants have no choice but to go up against the Department of Homeland Security attorneys on their own. By maintaining a constant presence in San Francisco Immigration Court, ICOP keeps pressure on judges to hold them accountable, helps make court hearings more transparent and identifies any needs and trends in immigration court that impact immigrants’ due process rights.

Ready to start volunteering as an immigration court observer?

Volunteering as an observer starts with requesting a training from us. Training includes an overview of immigration court proceedings and deportation/removal process, as well as important things to note while observing. Once trained, volunteers can immediately start attending immigration court hearings and submitting observation data.

If you’re part of a group or organization that would like to start sending observer teams to San Francisco court hearings, request a training to get started. Volunteers must commit to a minimum of weekly 3 hour observations, for 6-8 consecutive weeks.

Request an ICOP Training for your group or organization here.

Current ICOP observers

Submit ICOP Observation Sheets here

*Remember to submit one observation sheet per individual observed.

Mentorship Program

The Mentorship Program seeks to cultivate future generations of radical and progressive lawyers and legal workers through regular programming, social gatherings and a mentor match program. The Mentor Match Program pairs new lawyers and law students seeking guidance with Guild attorney mentors looking to share their experiences and knowledge with those newer to the profession.

Learn more about our work

Want to officially join the guild?