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Prisoner Education Guide

PLN is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center

Welcome to Prison Legal News!

Prison Legal News (PLN), a project of the non-profit Human Rights Defense Center, is a 72-page monthly magazine that reports on criminal justice issues and prison and jail-related civil litigation, with an emphasis on prisoners' rights. PLN has published continuously since 1990 and covers a wide range of topics that include prison labor, rape and sexual abuse, misconduct by prison and jail staff, prisoners' constitutional rights, racial and socioeconomic disparities in our criminal justice system, medical and mental health care for prisoners, disenfranchisement, rehabilitation and recidivism, prison privatization, prison and jail phone rates, women prisoners, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), prison censorship, the death penalty, HIV and hep C, solitary confinement and control units, and much more.
In 2013, PLN received the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. 
This website includes all of PLN's articles published since 1990 plus thousands of other articles, case reports, publications and pleadings. We have also launched a companion publication, Criminal Legal News (CLN), which covers criminal case law, policing, prosecutorial misconduct and related issues. 
To search PLN's articles and other content, click "Search Content" on the top menu bar. For recent news articles that mention PLN and the Human Rights Defense Center or quote PLN staff, click "In the News" (which also includes our press releases). For our litigation project, which tracks our First Amendment lawsuits, public records cases and other legal actions, click "Litigation."
PLN's monthly magazine is a subscription publication. We have thousands of subscribers nationwide, and around 65-70% are incarcerated. We also offer online subscriptions that provide full access to all content on our website (most of our news content is free, but a subscription is required to access some of our legal content). For subscription options and fees, please click on "Subscribe" on the menu bar.
PLN also distributes a number of criminal justice, legal and self-help books through our Book Store. Plus we do much more -- for a better understanding of everything we do, please review our Annual Reports (also available under the "About" tab).


     Recent PLN Articles

Department of Defense: Art Created by Guantαnamo Bay Detainees Belongs to U.S.

by Christopher Zoukis

Professor Erin L. Thompson of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City created a stir when she decided to curate an exhibit of art created by “enemy combatants” detained at Guantanamo Bay. The exhibit, “Ode to the Sea: Art from Guantanamo Bay,” ...

The Inside Story of a Legendary Prison Debate Team

Our victories over college students weren’t just for us—they were for incarcerated people everywhere.

by Daniel S. Throop, The Marshall Project, in collaboration with Vice

“I can’t believe they lost!” I blurted out to confused looks from my five cellies while reading a recent edition of The New Yorker ...

While in Custody: The Fight to Stop Jail Deaths in Washington State

When a prisoner dies in Washington state, the question of who is to blame often goes unaddressed. Meet the families, and their lawyers, who want answers.

by Ciara O’Rourke, Seattle Met

Stephanie Deal wanted her mom to bail her out. She wanted to go home. To see her daughter, Ella ...

In the Eye of the Storm: When Hurricanes Impact Prisons and Jails

by Matt Clarke

Hurricanes and other major storms represent a significant threat to prisoners. Prisons and jails are often built on poorly-drained land located in flood plains or other environmentally-sensitive areas. Although meteorologists usually warn of hurricanes days or even weeks before they make landfall, prisoners cannot move themselves to ...

Why Prison Reform Is Not Enough to Fix the U.S. Criminal Justice System

by Ed Chung, Center for American Progress

The Trump administration kicked off 2018 by expressing a surprising, newfound interest in reforming the country’s prisons and strengthening opportunities for those incarcerated to successfully re-enter their communities upon completion of their sentences. In mid-January, the White House convened a group of conservative ...

More articles



Prisoner Education Guide

Recent Headlines

On the regular Thursday series “Criminal Injustice,” about the most egregious conduct of our courts and prosecutors and how justice is denied to so many people in this country, the hosts discuss Prison Legal News under fire in Florida and the skyrocketing “gang database” in New York City under Mayor Bill de Blasio. Paul Wright, the founder and executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center and editor of Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, and Loud & Clear producer Nicole Roussell join the show.



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