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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

Registration, Tracking of Sex Offenders Drives Mass Incarceration Numbers and Costs

by Rick Anderson

The September 1988 rape and murder of 29-year-old Diane Ballasiotes in Seattle, Washington, followed by the 1989 rape and sexual mutilation of a 7-year-old Tacoma boy, were the seedlings of today’s nationwide sex offender registry laws – a 50-state network that tracks over 805,000 registrants and ...

PLN Settles Censorship Suit Against Illinois County for $75,000, Policy Changes

by Lonnie Burton

On June 17, 2016, Kane County, Illinois ratified a settlement agreement with Prison Legal News to resolve a federal lawsuit after dozens of copies of PLN sent to prisoners at the county’s jail were rejected. The county agreed to pay $75,000 in fees to PLN ...

California: Condemned Prisoners Smuggle Drugs to Commit Suicide

by Christopher Zoukis

As the 31 states that practice capital punishment struggle to find the chemicals necessary to execute condemned prisoners, in at least one state the prisoners themselves are successfully bringing in large quantities of drugs, which they sometimes use to commit suicide – to cheat the metaphorical hangman’s ...

Indiana County is Leader in Sending People to Prison

by Lonnie Burton

In a major shift from just a decade ago, rural areas of the U.S. are more likely to send people to prison than urban areas. While big cities have been trying to reduce incarceration rates, large parts of rural and suburban America have gone in the ...

After Fourteen Years, BOP Settles Prison Legal News FOIA Suit for $420,000

by Derek Gilna

When Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, the theory was that it would inject some needed transparency into the federal government and make it easier for the public to obtain documents from federal agencies. However, such transparency has proven elusive ...

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.



Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual


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