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Inmate Legal Services

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office provides legal services to inmates who represent themselves in their criminal cases, or are involved in a civil rights action for conditions of confinement or where the inmate is the respondent in a civil/domestic action, or petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Inmates are not permitted to visit the Inmate Legal Services Unit, but may request legal forms, case law, statutes, court rules and information for habeas corpus, civil rights and civil cases from the Inmate Legal Services Unit via an Inmate Legal Request Form.

Inmate Legal Services will research the requests for civil statutes, court rules and case law and file motions for habeas corpus, civil rights and civil response matters for inmates with the appropriate courts.

Inmates who are representing themselves (which is sometimes referred to as acting Pro Per) in their criminal cases may order court rules, statutes, case law and legal research from Inmate Legal Services. The staff in the Inmate Legal Services Office works 40 hours a week to research and file criminal, civil rights and civil cases for inmates.

Inmate Legal Services does not maintain a Law Library as such, but utilizes the internet to access legal research. Any material which is not available from Inmate Legal Services is obtained for the inmates from the Maricopa County Superior Court Law Library.

All lawsuits filed by the inmates are presented to the court, where the judge ultimately decides whether the suit has merit.


Inmate Library

The Inmate Library's mission is to provide reading material to all inmates in the county jail system. The Inmate Library's professional staff offers reference service to both inmates and jail staff. The librarians also coordinate with various inmate programs, including AA and NA, Hard Knocks High School, Special Education, Literacy, GED, and Sheriff Arpaio's Bedtime Stories, to acquire and distribute books in support of those programs.

Foreign language books and magazines are provided for inmates who are not proficient in English. The library offers selections in Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Vietnamese. Textbooks are also available for those who are learning to speak English/Spanish.

Jail inmates do not visit the library; rather, books are distributed on a monthly basis to all jails according to a regularly scheduled delivery procedure. The selection of materials varies daily, since the majority of library stock is donated by the community. A network of regular donors includes public libraries, schools, churches and charities, bookstores, and citizens who are interested in encouraging inmates to read.

Certain publications, deemed inappropriate for reasons of safety or security, are prohibited in the jails. Magazines depicting nudity or violence, books promoting illegal activity, and subjects such as "locksmithing" and "winemaking" are not allowed. The most popular books are westerns, especially by author Louis L'Amour; horror stories by such authors as Stephen King and Dean Koontz; and romance novels by Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele.

Almost half a million items are distributed every year, so donations of popular magazines and current bestsellers are always welcome. Paperback books and magazines for the Inmate Library can be picked up by MCSO. Contact (602)876-5633 to pick up.