SCFO cannot help offenders with civil rights issues, TDCJ policy or procedure issues, fee-generating cases and various other legal areas depending upon the circumstances. SCFO attorneys provide legal aid to offenders in the following areas:
I. Trial Services:
* SCFO represents indigent offenders indicted for felonies allegedly committed while the offender is confined within TDCJ.
II. Appeals Services:
* SCFO may represent indigent offenders in the appeal of convictions of the above trial cases. SCFO may also represent indigent offenders in writ areas arising from those trials and/or convictions.
III. Civil Commitment Services:
* SCFO represents indigent sex offenders targeted for civil commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator statute.
* Immigration Services SCFO is available to answer any questions regarding immigration law and to assist offenders who are scheduled for immigration court procedures.
* General Legal Services SCFO assists indigent
offenders with questions about many
different issues, for example:
♦ Convictions after the appeal process is complete,
♦ Writs of habeas corpus,
♦ Parole and mandatory supervision eligibility issues,
♦ Shock probation,
♦ Pending charges and detainers (another agency’s hold on an offender prior to release),
♦ Jail time credit awarded to an offender and information regarding other time credit calculations,
♦ Family Law, including offenders’ questions about child custody cases, child support, parental termination proceedings and probate matters.
Offenders can obtain assistance by writing to State Counsel for Offenders through the prison mail system. Prior to writing, offenders are encouraged to consult SCFO’s Legal Handbook.
A copy of the Legal Handbook is available at all unit libraries.
The Access to Courts Program ensures that offenders, who are assigned to correctional institutions operated, managed or monitored by TDCJ, are provided their constitutional right of access to courts, counsel and public officials, and that access is “adequate, effective and meaningful” as required by state and federal law. Officers, employees or agents of TDCJ shall not obstruct, harass, punish or otherwise penalize any offender for seeking or gaining access to the courts.
Unit law libraries are composed of many publications, including court forms, digests, treatises, federal and state case law, as well as various statutes and codes. In addition, each law library contains instructional and/or help publications on how to use this material.
Offenders are allowed to utilize these facilities and resources for legal purposes such as to challenge their criminal convictions, or the conditions of their confinement. An Access to Courts supervisor is available on each unit to respond to offender inquiries regarding the use of court forms and legal research material maintained in the unit’s law library.
Offenders can obtain assistance by writing to the appropriate section of State Counsel for Offenders through the prison mail system.
An offender who has been served with legal papers should immediately send the legal papers with his/her request.
State Counsel for Offenders:
The mission of the State Counsel for Offenders (SCFO) is to help indigent offenders with legal problems by providing assistance and attorneys who are independent of the confinement divisions of the TDCJ.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
State Counsel for Offenders Division
2503 Lake Road
P.O. Box 4005
Huntsville, TX 77342-4005