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Who Are We

Welcome to the first issue of Prisoners' Legal News. Your editors are Paul Wright and Ed Mead.

While we have no "party line," this newsletter will tend to reflect our class orientation. If you do not want to be on the mailing list, just write to our outside address and say so. We will drop you. If you want to continue receiving the newsletter, on the other hand, we will expect you to support us with donations of stamps or similar assistance.

The last publication I worked on was The Abolitionist, which started out to support the struggle against the digital rectal probes in the Intensive Management Units. That battle was ultimately won, and soon thereafter the newsletter fell in on itself. This time we have a new name for our paper, and a new issue as well. We are interested in getting the legislature, and/or the courts, to require that all indeterminate sentence cases be released from prison as soon as they have completed the amount of time they would have served if sentenced under the SRA. And that those individuals who have already served more than would have been imposed under the SRA be released immediately.

We understand that old guidelines people are a decreasing portion of the population. Moreover, we do not want to repeat the error of focusing on a single issue, which could cause things to fall apart once that goal was accomplished. Accordingly, with the help of like-minded cadre in other institutions, we hope to generate a list of relatively short-term objectives or goals.

We also need a long-term agenda. One possible issue around which to build is the right to vote. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution outlawed slavery for all but one category of people - those convicted of a crime. Certainly no one can argue that maintaining a segment of society in such a state, a state of political ignorance and disenfranchisement, serves either the needs of the individual or the public good.

By working to extend democracy to prisoners we can change from being more criminals to the defenders of democracy. The first step is in overcoming our demoralization to the point where we can start communicating with each other around political issues. That search for answers is the start.

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