Prisoner Legal Services

If you are in custody in San Francisco, you may have legal issues separate from your criminal charges. The Sheriff's Office Prisoner Legal Services (PLS) unit may be able to help you sort through these issues. PLS protects your rights while incarcerated and helps you remove roadblocks to your reentry.


In this page:
What is Prisoner Legal Services (PLS)?

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office Prisoner Legal Services (PLS) is a prisoner advocacy unit unique to law enforcement. Former prisoner rights attorney Michael Hennessey, who served as San Francisco Sheriff from 1980 to 2012, founded PLS in 1975. 

PLS staff, with help from law school interns, answer hundreds of requests for information and assistance each month from people in San Francisco County Jail custody.

Contact information

For more information, contact Prisoner Legal Services at (415) 558-2472.

Nick Gregoratos, Director of Prisoner Legal Services, email:

Melinda Benson, email:

Asia Harrigan, email:

Nubia Aguilera, email:

How does PLS help me if I am incarcerated?

If you are in custody in San Francisco county jail, or recently released, you have access to the Sheriff’s Office Prisoner Legal Services unit. PLS can help you with legal issues and questions. This includes:

  • Access to the courts: PLS helps people in custody start and reply to court actions covering many legal issues.
  • Access to information including the following topics:
    • Criminal law and state legal processes
    • California minimum standards for local detention facilities
    • SFSO and California Department of Corrections regulations and policies
    • Protecting the rights of people in custody
  • Access to resources:
    • PLS operates law libraries in the jails so you may conduct your own research 
    • PLS staff can answer your legal questions
  • Supporting successful reentry: PLS can assist you with resources, or direct you direct you toward community organizations, to support your successful reentry. Common areas of need include help with preserving your housing while you’re in jail, managing child custody and support matters, dealing with out-of-county warrants and clearing up traffic fines.

Voter Registration: PLS assures that all persons in San Francisco jail who are eligible can exercise their right to vote.

How is PLS different from my defense attorney or public defender?

Your defense attorney or public defender represents you in your criminal case. The Sheriff’s Office Prisoner Legal Services unit is available to assist you with general legal issues but will not represent you in criminal court.