Department of English

Alumna Terri LeClercq fights uphill battle to preserve prisoners’ rights

Wed, June 19, 2013
Alumna Terri LeClercq fights uphill battle to preserve prisoners’ rights
Photograph of LeClercq and cover of "Prison Grievances"

After 10 years spent investigating and exploring the conditions of the U.S. prison system, Alumna Terri LeClercq is fighting the uphill battle to preserve the legal rights of prison inmates.  LeClercq is a 1976 graduate of the Ph.D. program in the Department of English at the University of Texas who went on to teach legal writing at the UT School of Law.  Since that time, she has written several foundational texts on legal writing and research.  Currently, her work centers around trying to improve prison conditions, a topic she became interested in after her arrest at a protest in 1998.

In February 2013, LeClercq published a graphic novel titled Prison Grievances: When to Write, How to Write,which offers inmates effective tools to file complaints about living conditions in prison.  LeClercq opted for a graphic novel written at a 5th grade level to ensure that her work would be an accessible, useful resource for prison inmates with varying degrees of education.  Since the book’s publication, LeClercq has worked tirelessly to keep abreast of current casework and legislation related to prison conditions via her blog, Prison Grievances.  She is also working to promote the spread of the graphic novel, requesting that people buy a copy or two to send to prison libraries.  You can find out more about these efforts in this promotional video

LeClercq’s work to support prisoners’ rights has garnered much attention from the media and government entities alike.  Her graphic novel was the subject of two recent publications: “A Bobcat’s novel approach to helping prison inmates help themselves” in the San Marcos Mercury and “Prisoner grievance manual causes stir” in The Austin American Statesmen.  In April 2013, she testified before the Texas House Committee on Criminal Justice in April in support of a proposal to establish zero tolerance within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any staff member who retaliates against an inmate who files a grievance.  Unfortunately, this proposal was dropped from the bill before its approval. 

In spite of this setback, LeClercq continues to hope that her efforts will ultimately help improve conditions for inmates.  She encourages anyone with an interest in the project to visit her blog and buy a copy of "Prison Grievances" to send as a resource for prisoners.

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