AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum / March/April 2016 / Volume 20, Number 4

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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36 AALL SPECTRUM | WWW.AALLNET.ORG legal problems, and contribute to rehabilitation by providing a positive experience with the legal system," according to Albert P. Cardarelli and M. Marvin Finkelstein in their Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology article, "Correctional Administrators Assess the Adequacy and Impact of Prison Legal Services Programs in the United States." In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court gave further guidance on what con- stitutes "meaningful access" to the courts. e Court held that Bounds v. Smith "does not guarantee inmates the wherewithal to transform themselves into litigating engines capable of filing everything from shareholder deriv- ative actions to slip-and-fall claims. e tools it requires to be provided are those that the inmates need in order to attack their sentences, directly or collaterally, and to challenge the condi- tions of their confinement." Providing Meaningful Access: A Pilot Project To comply with these rulings, in 1984 the Minnesota State Law Library (MSLL) launched a pilot project to provide Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) inmates access to legal information. e Law Library Service to Prisoners (LLSP) program—a librarian outreach service—was established to provide this meaningful access and positive experience with the legal system. e program grants DOC inmates (not county inmates in jails or federal inmates in federal facilities) access to librarians who provide research and other legal services related to their incarceration. Funded by the department of corrections and endorsed by the State Public Defender and the Law Library Committee of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the LLSP program is a per- manent establishment of the state. In 1985, librarians based at MSLL began regularly scheduled visits to the adult correctional facilities to meet with individual inmates to provide regular law library reference and research services—2,509 requests were filled for 274 inmates. Since then, the requests for librarian services have grown; in 2014, the program provided more than 42,000 requested items to more than 2,600 inmates. Today, the staff includes two full-time librarians, one part-time librarian, a supervis- ing librarian, and a part-time clerk. Together they make regular visits to the correctional facilities and provide additional service via mail. Essential Services Librarians currently visit eight pri- mary adult Minnesota correctional facilities each month to meet with inmates. e program also provides law library services to DOC staff and inmates housed in other facilities, such as county jails, state hospitals, and prisons in other states. Inmate requests are made through the mail or Kite (an internal DOC request form), by phone, or during the monthly (5–10 minutes) reference meetings with one of the librarians. e inmates have access to basic Minnesota legal resources on-site, including statutes, administrative rules, court rules, and a few second- ary sources. ey also have access to case law from Minnesota and the U.S. Over the years, librarians have seen inmates utilize the library services … to become more literate, (many learn to read while incarcerated), to navigate legal issues for themselves and their families, and to gain useful life skills.

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