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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

Poor Parents Fail to Pay Child Support, Go to Jail

Child support is an enormous issue in the United States. In August 2015, Mark Greenberg, the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, wrote that 1 in 4 children nationwide had an active child support case ...

Third Circuit Reverses Dismissal of New Jersey Prisoner’s Suit

On November 16, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of a civil rights action brought by a former New Jersey state prisoner who was housed at a community corrections facility and allegedly mistreated when she was repeatedly returned to prison.

Alexandra Chavarriaga was in the custody ...

Securus Settles Lawsuit Alleging Improper Recording of Privileged Prisoner Calls

by Jordan Smith, The Intercept

Attorneys and advocates for people incarcerated in local jails in Austin, Texas have settled a federal lawsuit against telecommunications company Securus Technologies, with an agreement ostensibly designed to ensure that privileged legal communications between defense attorneys and their clients are not improperly recorded.

The suit ...

$81,200 for North Carolina Prisoner’s Estate in Breach of Duty Suit

The North Carolina Industrial Commission awarded $81,200 to the estate of a prisoner who died after a guard at the Greene Corr. Institution denied him medical care.

The estate alleged that prisoner Thomas Sellars, 51, went to the officer’s station in the fall of 2010 and informed Sgt ...

Prison and Jail Officials Face New Challenge: Drones Used to Smuggle Contraband

Drones are increasingly being used in attempts to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons worldwide. Previously, smugglers had to bribe guards, use their body cavities or have accomplices sneak forbidden items through prison visitation. All of that is now changing with the availability of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs ...

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