In a move that might prove extremely useful to federal prisoners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has published a solicitation notice for “inmate electronic discovery,” or “eDiscovery,” seeking information relating to support services, hardware, and software that would allow prisoners to view electronic discovery documents used in court litigation.

The formal Request for Information issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Information Technology Planning and Development Branch specified that the project is merely in the planning stage and that no formal bids would be accepted yet.

At present, BOP inmates have access to a LexisNexis legal database that includes court decisions, BOP regulatory documents, and several treatises.  The “TRULINCS Electronic Law Library” is a stand-alone system with no connection to the Internet or court databases (i.e., PACER, the federal court’s public access system).  As such, in most cases when a BOP inmate is involved in criminal or civil court litigation, only paper case-related documents are available to him or her.

Allowing inmates to access systems like PACER through a secure network like TRULINCS would not only permit inmates better access to the courts but would also have several other benefits, such as eliminating the substantial expense of requiring government agencies and other litigants to serve inmates with discovery documents and other media in paper form (with the related mailing costs).  Such a system would also improve security, fewer inventory concerns, and reduce expenses for the BOP.

To learn more about this developing story, read FCW’s article “Bureau of Prisons mulls eDiscovery computers for inmates” or the actual “Request for Information.”

This video outlines the basic concepts and practices associated with electronic discovery including the basic discovery process, the e-discovery IT reference model, and the e-discovery maturity model.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).


  1. Dianne Frazee-Walker on July 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Christopher Zoukis is presenting another avenue of empowering prison inmates. This innovative technology helps inmates who normally are hindered from obtaining crucial information about their cases unless it is delivered by their attorney. E-discovery not only makes information more accessible, but saves time.

  2. MA on July 24, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Awesome! Glad there are changes taking place – or at least that the government is considering them. Seems so weird that access to information is something that the government would want to prevent. Are they afraid that inmates would find out they’re innocent? Are they afraid of hacking? There are plenty of ways that you can allow access to information without opening up any dangerous doors. Hopefully this is one step of many, and that progress is underway.

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