How to File for Bankruptcy While in Prison

Incarceration negatively impacts a person's life on a number of levels beyond the obvious problems associated with jail time. One aspect of incarceration is the negative effect on an inmate's finances. If you have found yourself in prison and trying to deal with an ever-eroding financial situation, bankruptcy can be an ideal option for you. To take advantage of this strategy to protect your financial interests, you need to understand how to file for bankruptcy while in prison. Although you theoretically can file for bankruptcy from prison on your own, the best course to take is to find an attorney to undertake your case on a pro bono (no fee) basis.

Write a letter to the local legal aid organization in the community you intend to file bankruptcy and request representation. The proper location to file for bankruptcy probably is not the city in which you are incarcerated. Your debts likely were accumulated in the city you resided in before you were convicted. Therefore, contact the legal aid organization in or near the city where you lived before going to prison. Legal aid offices provide legal representation unable to employ attorneys on their own. They provide representation in bankruptcy case, including on the behalf of inmates.

Draft and send a similar letter to any law school clinic in the area of your former hometown to request legal assistance. You need to cover all of your bases. Therefore, make inquiries to different organizations that provide no-cost representation. Most law schools maintain clinics. These clinics provide legal services to the community provided by students in their last year of law school. These students are supervised by licensed attorneys and do assist clients in bankruptcy. Clinics do provide legal assistance to prisoners with some frequency.

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Contact a prisoner support group--again by letter. Explain that your financial status requires you to seek legal assistance to file for bankruptcy. Many prisoner support groups maintain extensive networks that include access to attorneys available to file a bankruptcy on your behalf while you are in prison. You can obtain information about these prisoner support groups from your counselor or from the prison chaplain.


  • In considering how to file for bankruptcy while in prison, you can make use of the resources in a prison library and attempt to pursue a case on your own. With that said, the typical prison library lacks up-to-date bankruptcy materials and forms. Because you do have resources available to you outside the walls through which you likely can access a qualified lawyer to file and pursue and bankruptcy case for you, the wise course to take is attempting to engage such representation before pursuing a bankruptcy while locked up without professional legal assistance.

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