Advocating for the Rights of the Incarcerated

The United States incarcerates far more people than any other country in the world: with only five percent of the total world population, the United States accounts for 25 percent of all people behind bars. On any given day, some seven million Americans are either locked up, on probation, or on parole.

A culture of punishment, combined with a history of racism and oppression, has built a system of prisons and jails where people face illness, harassment, torture and even death.

We file suits on behalf of people in prison who have been denied their fundamental, constitutional rights. We advocate, whenever possible, for real, systemic change for those living behind bars.

Key Victories

Brown v. Precythe


The MacArthur Justice Center is pursuing a federal class action challenging the Missouri Parole Board’s demonstrated abuse of power, disregard for due process and failure to comply with state and federal law when it comes to youthful offenders previously given mandatory life without parole sentences.

Hampton v. Illinois Department of Corrections

Health and Safety

Strawberry Hampton is a 28-year-old transgender woman who is incarcerated within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Ms. Hampton has survived numerous sexual assaults and received constant harassment and threats in men's prisons, where she spent the majority of her sentence. IDOC officials have consistently refused to acknowledge Ms. Hampton’s gender and have repeatedly and deliberately placed her in environments detrimental to her physical, mental and emotional health.

Garza v. Idaho (U.S. Supreme Court)

Access to Courts

This case concerns one of the clearest instances in which a criminal defendant was abandoned by his defense attorney and deprived of his right to appellate review. After pleading guilty, Gilberto Garza, Jr., instructed his attorney to file an appeal, but his attorney refused to do so. As a result, Mr. Garza’s attorney deprived him...

Williamson v. Stirling (Fourth Circuit)

Solitary Confinement

Following an order from then-Governor Nikki Haley, Mr. Williamson was transferred from general population in a county jail to solitary confinement in a South Carolina prison after he engaged in misconduct while awaiting trial. Mr. Williamson was not provided notice or a hearing prior to the transfer and was not provided process during the three...

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