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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

Affluenza Epidemic Rampant in Our Nation’s Criminal Justice System

by Gary Hunter

Af-flu-en-za /n. <L. affluentia, see AFFLUENCE + <LL. Influens, see INFLUENCE/: an acute and infectious disease caused by greed and favoritism in the judicial system and characterized by preferential treatment and lenient sentences for wealthy offenders.

 Following his testimony in the criminal prosecution of Ethan Couch, a Texas ...

Private Prisons in Oklahoma Prove Costly

Private prisons cost the state of Oklahoma $92.7 million in 2015 alone, and almost $1 billion since 2004. With its prison system currently operating at 122 percent of capacity, the Oklahoma Board of Corrections (OBOC) will need even more private prison bed space, according to Joe M. Allbaugh, Director ...

Perfect Storm of Overcrowding, Violence and Staff Shortages in Tennessee Prisons

by David M. Reutter

An increasing prison population within the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), combined with staff shortages, created a perfect storm that spawned high levels of violence in the state’s prison system.

The TDOC has maintained that its prisons are safe. But state legislative hearings uncovered a ...

Global Tel*Link Agrees to Pay $8.8 Million in Class-action Settlement

by Derek Gilna

Global Tel*Link (GTL), the telecom company known for exploiting prisoners with high phone rates to maintain communication with their friends and family members, agreed on March 27, 2017 to pay $8.8 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ...

Marion County, Indiana Jail Plagued by Prisoner Deaths, Ensuing Lawsuits

by Lonnie Burton

As of January 2016, Marion County, Indiana Sheriff John Layton had a banner hanging above the entrance to the county jail that read “Top 1% of Sheriff’s Offices in America!” But the families of more than a dozen prisoners who died at the facility since 2009 ...

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 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 we want to hear from you. Please contact Carrie Wilkinson at, or call (206) 257-1355, or write: HRDC, SPP Debit Cards, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460.


Freebird Publishers


Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual