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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. 

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 website 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

No-show Cops and Dysfunctional Courts Keep Cook County Jail Prisoners Waiting Years for a Trial

by Spencer Woodman, Chicago Reader

June 25, 2012, was a terrible day for Jermaine Robinson. Overall, life was good – the 21-year-old Washington Park resident had been studying music management at Columbia College and was a few weeks into a job working as a janitor at a nearby Boys & ...

Two Federal Courts Find Prison Gerrymandering Unconstitutional

by David Reutter

Two federal district courts, one in Florida and the other in Rhode Island, have held prison gerrymandering unconstitutional, though one of the orders was overturned on appeal. The rulings are the first of their kind.

“This is a big win for democracy,” said Adam Lioz of ...

$60,000 Settlement in GEO Group Employee’s Sexual Harassment Case

The GEO Group -- one of the nation's largest private prison firms, which is frequently the subject of scandal arising from repeated human rights violations at its for-profit facilities – has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought against the company in 2015 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ...

Parole Remains Elusive for Virginia Prisoners

by David Reutter

Virginia has more than 3,500 prisoners eligible for parole, representing over 9% of its prison population of 38,000 – a significant number considering that the state abolished parole over 20 years ago. Still, even for those long-serving prisoners who are still eligible, the odds of ...

Tattoo Recognition: Law Enforcement’s Newest Identification Tool

by David Reutter

New technology is giving law enforcement agencies the ability to identify people by taking a photo of their tattoos; it can also group people with others who have the same type of body art.

Federal researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have launched ...

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.



Federal Prison Handbook