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The Prisoner's Guide to Survival: A Comprehensive Legal Assistance Manual for PostConviction Relief and Prisoners' Civil Rights Actions

By L. Powell Belanger PSI Publishing, Inc. (745 Pages)

Reviewed by Sam Rutherford

The Prisoner's Guide to Survival is a new legal research tool that covers all aspects of federal litigation common to prisoners. The book is useful both to the novice pro se litigant and to the experienced attorney involved in federal criminal appeals or prisoner civil rights actions

The first half of the Guide provides an in depth, step-bystep outline for litigating an appeal from a federal conviction or sentence, the filing of a federal habeas corpus petition by state or federal prisoners, litigating a federal civil rights complaint, and the filing of petitions for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. These diverse topics are each discussed succinctly in separate chapters and sections of the Guide, with sample forms at the end of each chapter. The Guide is written and organized in an easy to understand, thorough fashion that clearly apprises the individual litigant of what to expect as his or her lawsuit moves forward. There is also a chapter on legal research and legal writing, which is extremely insightful for the beginner.

More useful to the experienced litigant is the "Case Law" section of the Guide. In this second half of the book, the reader will find over 3,000 cases divided into more than 90 topics. Each case is followed by a brief synopsis describing the holding of the court as it relates to the topic under which the case is listed. The Guide also has a glossary defining a verity of legal words and terms; a resources directory for prisoner support services and interest groups ranging from penpal outlets to legal assistance organizations; and an appendix containing information on the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, accompanied by sample forms to use in obtaining information under these statutes.

The Guide can be purchased from PSI Publishing, Inc., 413B 19th Street, # 168, Lynden, WA 98264 ($49.95 for prisoners _ $64.95 for nonprisoners, plus $5.00 shipping & handling). [See Ad in this issue of PLN.] This book is highly recommended and those who can afford it should seriously consider making this investment.

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