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Accepting work from a convict?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
A friend of mine received a request from a man currently in prison (letter was stamped: Inmate Mail. Department of Corrections). The work is not his area of specialty, so he forwarded the request to me. Unfortunately, I have no PO box I could use, and the man has no access to email, it seems. Any other ideas so I do not give out my personal address? Any precautions you may offer? I have worked within prisons and for inmates before on other types of projects, but my information was always kept private, and I was paid by an agency.

If I went ahead and accepted this project, it would not be for the monetary gain, it so happens that the research sounds interesting, and it would be relatively difficult for him to find someone else to do the work.

Suggestions welcome.
post #2 of 31
Depends on what he's in jail for
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Isn't this private information?
post #4 of 31
Just fork out for the PO box, and name it F.Fabssurname in the instance that the circumstances behind his incarceration worries you later. If you dont want to take on any expenses on a project that isnt profitable anyhow, act in the grand tradition of consultants the world over and creatively rebill it.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabienne
Isn't this private information?
No. Different governmental agencies may be subject to legal or other restrictions in how they collect and/or disseminate this information. But the fact that someone was convicted and sentenced to prison for a crime is a matter of public record. With rare exceptions that are not likely to be applicable here, court files are public records that are open to the public -- and such files would reflect information about the conviction, sentence, etc.
post #6 of 31
Is it necessary that you have an ongoing dialogue with the client, or is the project something you can essentially research on your own without further information? If the latter, you could possibly use your friend who referred it to you as an intermediary.
But I second m@t's suggestion that if you are sufficiently interested, you incur the moderate expense and inconvenience of an anonymous P.O. Box. Even leaving aside the obvious potential safety issues, you should keep in mind that any personal information the client receives may be disseminated, intentionally or unintentionally, within the facility where he is incarcerated. At the very least, this would create the potential for annoying and intrusive, even if non-threatening, requests from other inmates once the word gets around that you're someone who is willing to provide assistance to inmates.
post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
No. Different governmental agencies may be subject to legal or other restrictions in how they collect and/or disseminate this information. But the fact that someone was convicted and sentenced to prison for a crime is a matter of public record. With rare exceptions that are not likely to be applicable here, court files are public records that are open to the public -- and such files would reflect information about the conviction, sentence, etc.

I see. Thank you. Is there an easy way of finding out information online at no cost? The man does not reside in the same state as I do.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
Is it necessary that you have an ongoing dialogue with the client, or is the project something you can essentially research on your own without further information? If the latter, you could possibly use your friend who referred it to you as an intermediary.
But I second m@t's suggestion that if you are sufficiently interested, you incur the moderate expense and inconvenience of an anonymous P.O. Box. Even leaving aside the obvious potential safety issues, you should keep in mind that any personal information the client receives may be disseminated, intentionally or unintentionally, within the facility where he is incarcerated. At the very least, this would create the potential for annoying and intrusive, even if non-threatening, requests from other inmates once the word gets around that you're someone who is willing to provide assistance to inmates.

He would need to share documents, and I would have to send him my work based on the documents. This is a rather narrow field of expertise, so it would probably not be needed by any other inmate at that prison.

I think I'll probably start negociating a contract through my friend (assuming he's willing) and then I may get the PO box, as suggested by m@t, if I feel it is getting too tedious: he is located in yet another state.
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabienne
I see. Thank you. Is there an easy way of finding out information online at no cost? The man does not reside in the same state as I do.
How information is kept and accessed varies from state to state. It is, unforunately, unlikely that the information can be obtained easily and for free. Perhaps with his name, etc. it may be possible.It likely would either require some digging or some $ - although the cost should be fairly nominal for someone used to tracking down such information (private investigators, etc.) If you were to request some information from the potential client (name, date of conviction, type of offense, case number, etc.) it probably would be easier to verify what he is telling you than to find it "blind". To the extent courts in various jurisdictions have case information and the like online, it is easier to find if you know what you are looking for. (That is, in many courts it is easy to find the records of a particular case about which you have enough information, but perhaps harder to find information if all you know is the name of a party, especially if that name is relatively common.)
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by m@T

If you dont want to take on any expenses on a project that isnt profitable anyhow, act in the grand tradition of consultants the world over and creatively rebill it.

Well this would certainly help one to get into the "criminal" mindset.

I recall a white collar case a few years ago about over-billing by an ad agency. The people who went to trial were convicted of fraud and did hard time.
post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad
How information is kept and accessed varies from state to state. It is, unforunately, unlikely that the information can be obtained easily and for free. Perhaps with his name, etc. it may be possible.It likely would either require some digging or some $ - although the cost should be fairly nominal for someone used to tracking down such information (private investigators, etc.) If you were to request some information from the potential client (name, date of conviction, type of offense, case number, etc.) it probably would be easier to verify what he is telling you than to find it "blind". To the extent courts in various jurisdictions have case information and the like online, it is easier to find if you know what you are looking for. (That is, in many courts it is easy to find the records of a particular case about which you have enough information, but perhaps harder to find information if all you know is the name of a party, especially if that name is relatively common.)

I googled his name and came up with this wording: Sentence of death vacated, remanded for imposition of life sentence.

He appealed in 01, appeal denied.
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fabienne
I googled his name and came up with this wording: Sentence of death vacated, remanded for imposition of life sentence.

He appealed in 01, appeal denied.

Yeah - that's not good.

Probably one of those convicted murderers whose death sentence was tossed by the Supreme Court a few years ago (because they were sentenced by judges, not juries) so now it's reverted to a life sentence.
post #13 of 31
If he was sentenced to death, then he must have been convicted for murder. It's the only crime for which death is a permissible punishment.
post #14 of 31
I don't know what business you're in, but even if YOU don't personally have an ethical problem with doing work for a convicted murderer, you might want to consider how it might look to current and/or potential associates, clients, etc. should they become aware of it. Not that that should or shouldn't influence your decision, but you should consider it and go into it with your eyes open.
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quirk
I don't know what business you're in, but even if YOU don't personally have an ethical problem with doing work for a convicted murderer, you might want to consider how it might look to current and/or potential associates, clients, etc. should they become aware of it. Not that that should or shouldn't influence your decision, but you should consider it and go into it with your eyes open.

I don't know what field Fabienne is in, but I know that at most Biglaw firms it's pretty acceptable practice for young associates to represent death row inmates in their habeas petitions on a pro bono basis.
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