Thursday, August 3, 2006
The Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review is publishing its first ever article written by a prison inmate, Thomas C. O’Bryant, who is a jailhouse lawyer serving two consecutive life sentences in prison without hope of release. Having taught himself the law from prison, O’Bryant has represented himself and other inmates in numerous criminal and civil lawsuits in state and federal courts over the past ten years.
In his law review article, O’Bryant describes the difficult process that he and other indigent inmates must endure to challenge their state convictions. O’Bryant argues that the combination of federal laws and stringent prison conditions make it impossible to challenges wrongful convictions effectively. O’Bryant describes his own case, in which his lawyer assured him that if he pled guilty, he would be eligible for release after ten years, even though he discovered from prison that he would never be eligible for release.
O’Bryant’s article is the centerpiece of a Symposium of articles in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review that examines pro se litigation ten years after AEDPA. Other authors of articles in the Symposium include Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama and a Professor at NYU Law School, Jamie Fellner, the director of U.S. Programs at
Human Rights Watch, and Jessica Feierman, at attorney at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, PA. Coming on the heels of the 10th Anniversary of the passage of Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, all of the articles in the Symposium challenge legislators, scholars, advocates, and everyone interested in issues of criminal justice in America to rethink its
treatment of “final” criminal convictions.
The entire Summer Issue including O’Bryant’s article. . . [Mark Godsey]