By: Ruby Castillo
Kashif Hamza Hassan is an atypical paralegal as he is a prison inmate. After being wrongfully incarcerated and sentenced to life in prison, he decided to make a change for the better.
For more than ten years, Kashif has spent countless hours in the prison’s library learning how to help himself and other inmates to have a fair shot in the criminal justice system.
It’s in New Jersey State prison, where this unconventional paralegal taught himself law and earned several college degrees:
- Bachelor in Business
- Masters in Business
- Masters of Arts Organizational Management
- Masters in Criminal Justice
He also achieved diplomas in Advance Paralegal Studies in criminal, civil, family, business, real estate, wills, and trust laws.
Thanks to his perseverance, empathy, and strong desire to do the right thing, he fights for his freedom and helps other prisoners get relief.
For most inmates, prison paralegals are the only people who understand them and support them in their pursuit of justice. Kashif’s primary focus is to give himself and other convicts a day in court.
Kashif spends his day preparing documents, researching claims, and assisting prisoners in how to represent themselves if they aren’t able to afford legal representation.
Sad to say, he does these with minimal resources, budget, time (as he only has access to the prison’s library for two or three hours weekly), and the law books in his cell.
The reality is that being a paralegal in prison is challenging. There are almost no resources, and the prison staff doesn’t like them.
Because prison paralegals limit the staffs power, when an inmate knows about the law, it forces prison authorities to follow the rules as they’re held accountable for their actions.
Kashif is constantly putting himself as a target. Every time he receives a prisoner complaint, he accepts the risks as he is susceptible to retaliation.
But the truth is that even though paralegals are not lawyers, they’re the only ones inside the prison that can help everyone: prisoners and staff. As a paralegal, Kashif has a significant influence over the population since he is open to helping every group demanding his legal assistance.
Kashif has learned to be fair. He has the technical and legal awareness to improve prison life by recognizing administrative work, internal regulations and reinforcing them.
The primary purpose of Kashif is to bring attention to the fact that paralegals are vital for making the criminal justice system work better. That’s why he wakes up every day with one goal: to use his skills on behalf of prisoners like himself.
He is determined to protect legal rights while encouraging everyone to be treated humanely.
Kashif uses this line of work to find motivation in his personal moral beliefs while waiting for the opportunity to hug his two sons again.