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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

Policing for Profit: Law Enforcement Agencies Abuse Civil Asset Forfeiture

by Matt Clarke

While crime may not pay, policing can be very profitable when law enforcement agencies are allowed to seize assets not only from criminals but also people merely suspected of breaking the law. No criminal convictions – or even charges – are needed before property or money can be taken ...

PLN Obtains $50,000 Settlement in Tennessee Jail Censorship Suit

On March 16, 2016, a Tennessee federal district court granted PLN’s motion for a preliminary injunction to protect its Fourteenth Amendment rights from infringement by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office. The county subsequently agreed to pay a $50,000 settlement.

PLN’s complaint, filed in October 2013, sought ...

Suicide at Texas Jail Results in Firings, Lawsuit, Investigation and Legislation

by Matt Clarke

On July 10, 2015, Sandra Bland was stopped while driving in Prairie View, Texas. The 28-year-old Illinois native was in the process of moving to Waller County when she was stopped by Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, allegedly for changing lanes without signaling.

A verbal altercation ensued ...

One of Tennessee’s Most Pristine Rivers Contaminated with Prison Sewage

by Panagioti Tsolkas

It's a rare case when one state agency penalizes another with more than a slap on the wrist. This year, in a move that surprised local environmentalists, Tennessee joined the growing list of states where environmental agencies have imposed fines against prisons for chronic water quality ...

Forced to Endure Extreme Heat, Prisoners are Casualties of Texas’ Climate Denial, Documents Show

by Candice Bernd, Truthout

On a spring day in May, temperatures in Dallas, Texas were already in the 90s. Sunlight glinted off the barbed wire perimeter outside the Hutchins State Jail, located just a mile down the road from Hutchins High School. The first blooms of Castilleja, colloquially known here ...

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



Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual


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