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Prisoner Education Guide

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

California Prisons Struggle with Environmental Threats from Sewage Spills, Contaminated Water, Airborne Disease

by Rick Anderson

"When I walk into my cell and see a [toilet] bowl full of brown water, I’m reminded of my status in the world; I’m reminded of my value. All the pious talk in the world about rehabilitation doesn’t change this ugly reality.”

That was lifer Kenneth ...

$1.275 Million Settlement for Los Angeles County Jail Whistleblower

by Lonnie Burton

In May 2017, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who worked at the L.A. County jail and helped send colleagues to prison for obstructing an FBI investigation was set to receive $1.275 million after the settlement of her federal lawsuit accusing the sheriff’s department ...

New York Jail Agrees to End Solitary Confinement of Juveniles

by Derek Gilna and Matt Clarke

Jail officials in Syracuse, New York have agreed to end solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old juvenile offenders held at the Onondaga County Justice Center under the terms of a June 26, 2017 settlement that ended a federal class-action suit filed by the New ...

Pennsylvania: Philly D.A. Sentenced to Five Years for Corruption, Disbarred

by Monte McCoin

Former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who in 2009 drew acclaim as the first African-American D.A. in the city and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was sentenced on October 24, 2017 to five years in prison for accepting a bribe. He had been disbarred the week ...

Tennessee Judge Denies Summary Judgment Motion in Jail Suicide Suit; Case Settles

by Derek Gilna

On June 13, 2016, U.S. District CourtJudge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr. denied a motion submitted by Robertson County, Tennessee officials seeking to dismiss a §1983 civil rights case brought by the mother of Matthew J. Burns, who committed suicide while confined at the Robertson County Detention ...

More articles



Prisoner Education Guide
If you or someone you know has been forced to work in a chicken processing plant in Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia or Arkansas as part of a work release, diversion or jail work program under threat of being sent to prison and were paid little or nothing we would like to talk to you for a story we are investigating.
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