Flashlights On

An $811,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the Jailhouse Lawyer Initiative (JLI) in developing Flashlights, a new digital archive aimed at building recognition for the impact of jailhouse lawyers, incarcerated persons who teach themselves the law in order to advocate for themselves and others in and outside prison.

Jhody Polk
Jhody Polk

JLI was founded by Jhody Polk, a former jailhouse lawyer who was named a Soros Justice Fellow in 2018. Housed at NYU Law’s Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, JLI supports jailhouse lawyers by creating a national network of incarcerated advocates, providing legal training, and highlighting their role in the legal system.

JLI will partner with Zealous, an organization that utilizes storytelling for social justice advocacy, to collect writing and artwork by jailhouse lawyers. “Flashlights calls on the public to shift their gaze and listen directly to those living through and fighting against injustice on the inside,” Bernstein Institute executive director Sukti Dhital said in announcing the award.

Posted September 11, 2023