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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

When Prison is Not Enough: The Rise (and Perhaps the Fall) of the Supermax Prison

by Keramet Reiter

In 1986, the Security Management Unitopened in Florence, Arizona. It was a new kind of prison designed for long-term, total isolation, for prisoners whom prison officials said simply could not get by in the general prison population: gang members, the extremely violent, some death row prisoners. The ...

Local Jails Increasingly Refuse to Comply with ICE Detainers

Hundreds of municipalities across the country – including major cities such as Los Angeles and others with large populations of immigrants – are refusing to honor requests from federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in jail for possible deportation after a judge ruled that doing so was unconstitutional. The policy change has ...

Maryland DOC Suspends Volunteer, Drops Literature Program

Mikita Brottman led a reading and discussion group for nine Maryland prisoners serving life sentences at the Jessup Correctional Institution. A professor of literature at the Maryland Institute College of Art and a psychoanalyst, Brottman volunteered her time for two hours a week, a few weeks out of the year ...

Oregon “Incorrigible Masturbator’s” Life Sentence Unconstitutionally Disproportionate

The Oregon Court of Appeals held on June 17, 2015 that a true life sentence for “an incorrigible masturbator” was an unconstitutionally disproportionate punishment – a decision subsequently upheld by the state Supreme Court.

Under ORS 137.719(1), certain recidivist sex offenders may be sentenced to a presumptive life sentence ...

Ohio Federal Court Dismisses Suit Against Doctor Over Prisoner’s Suicide

On September 4, 2015, an Ohio federal district court dismissed a lawsuit brought against a former prison doctor following the suicide of a prisoner under his care.

Ohio prisoner Gregory Stamper was in extreme pain due to damage to his nervous system. Dr. Myron Lyle Shank, the physician responsible for ...

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