What does AVID prison project do for prisoners?

DRW provides technical assistance to caller

DRW’s new prison project, Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) prison project, uses a variety of advocacy approaches to address the problems of people with disabilities in and leaving Washington prisons. AVID prison project takes advantage of DRW’s unique access authority to monitor prisons, investigate potential abuse and neglect of prison inmates with disabilities, issue public reports, and engage in whatever advocacy is necessary to remedy problems found during monitoring and investigation.  

As Washington’s protection and advocacy system, DRW can access any setting in which people with disabilities receive services, including prisons.  AVID prison project will build on DRW’s experience producing award-winning investigative reports and video advocacy to take the general public and policymakers behind prison razor wire fences and concrete walls.  Through its reports and videos, AVID will truly Amplify Voices of Inmates with Disabilities by revealing the realities faced by prison inmates. 

AVID’s attorneys and video advocates have a five-step plan that will make sure the voices of current and former prisoners are heard and respected. The plan calls for AVID staff to: 

  1. Identify and document issues faced by current and former prisoners.
    AVID prison project staff monitor conditions at each of the state prisons, investigate potential abuse and neglect of prisoners with disabilities, and create reports and videos highlighting the problems identified.
  2. Make recommendations for addressing issues faced by current and former prisoners.
    AVID prison project staff research legal standards and alternative models of prison operation to include in the reports and videos about how to solve the problems identified.
  3. Provide individual advocacy services on issues faced by current and former prisoners.
    AVID prison project staff provide technical assistance in self-advocacy to prisoners and former prisoners to assist them in better advocating for solutions to the individual problems they face, and provide limited individual representation on individual issues that represent systemic failures.
  4. Provide systemic advocacy on issues faced by current and former prisoners.
    AVID prison project staff regularly problem-solve with the agencies and providers serving people in prison and in the community to devise meaningful, sustainable, systemic solutions to problems faced by current and former prisoners.
  5. Establish a sustainable advocacy coalition and plan for continual improvement and advocacy for current and former prisoner with disabilities.
    AVID prison project staff facilitate vision building, skill development, information sharing, and advocacy coordination among the various legal and non-legal advocacy organizations serving current and former prisoners in an effort to improve advocacy outcomes and advocacy infrastructure stability and sustainability for years to come. 

If you want to share prison-related issues with AVID prison project or want to request technical assistance to improve your understanding of your rights and your self-advocacy skills, contact one of AVID prison project’s lawyers or law student interns:

By mail:
Disability Rights Washington - AVID
315 - 5th Avenue South, Suite 850
Seattle, WA  98104

By phone:
(800) 562-2702
(206) 324-1521 (collect charges from prison accepted)
Call for AVID phone schedule, as it varies week to week. Interpreters are available. Please use 711 for relay service.

If you would like to participate in AVID prison project’s advocacy as a volunteer or pro-bono lawyer, coalition agency, or as a financial supporter, please contact: 

David R. Carlson
Director of Legal Advocacy
davidc (at) dr-wa.org
(206) 324-1521