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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

US Parole Activists Aim to Overhaul a Failing System

by Jean Trounstine

The United States has the shameful reputation of being the world's largest jailer, and as the Prison Policy Initiative reported in March, 2017, 2.3 million people are currently locked up in prisons and jails. This mass incarceration continues in spite of the fact that a  ...

Five Years after Implementation, PREA Standards Remain Inadequate

“We should not be tolerating rape in prison.” – President Barack Obama, July 2015

by Derek Gilna

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), passed unanimously by Congress in 2003, was a rare instance of bipartisan cooperation, and its passage signaled that public officials could no longer ignore the problem ...

Michigan Court Forced to End “Pay or Stay” Policy

by David M. Reutter

A Michigan state district court judge was ordered to end a “pay or stay” policy that he used to toss poor defendants in jail for their inability to pay fines, fees and court costs. 

The ACLU of Michigan assigned interns and fellows to watch the ...

Former Utah Jail Commander Pleads Guilty to Misuse of Public Money

by Monte McCoin

Galen Bret Allred, 47, the former commander of the Iron County Correctional Facility in Utah, pleaded guilty on September 7, 2017 to one third-degree felony count of misuse of public funds. Millard County Attorney Patrick Finlinson prosecuted the case when the Iron County Attorney’s Office cited its ...

Concern over Use of Prisoners to Clear Homeless Camps in Washington, Oregon

by Lonnie Burton

In November 2016, the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Seattle, Washington adopted a resolution calling on the city to stop using state Department of Corrections (DOC) work crews to clean up homeless encampments. HRC’s announcement came just two months after a federal judge in nearby Tacoma found ...

More articles



Prisoner Education Guide

   Breaking News 

Notice: The Human Rights Defense Center is currently suing NUMI in US District Court in Portland, Oregon over its release debit card practices in that state. We are interested in litigating other cases against NUMI and the other debit card companies, including JPay, Keefe, EZ Card, Futura Card Services, Access Corrections, Release Pay and TouchPay, that exploit prisoners and arrestees in this manner. If you have had your money taken by any of these companies and been charged fees to access your funds on a debit card after being released from prison or jail within the last 18 months, we want to hear from you. Please write: HRDC, SPP Debit Cards, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460.



Freebird Publishers


Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual