Welcome to issue #7 of the Prisoners' Legal News. As I write this issue, #6 has not yet been mailed out to readers, and #5 has just been banned from the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla. The warden there said "the article, `Why Racism' clearly promotes violence against prison staff and encourages riots." Paul and I were of course correct in printing materials challenging racism on the inside, but I believe we were wrong in publishing that particular article. It was a bit too emotional and contained too much pig this and pig that rhetoric. We apologize to our readers at the Walls for not exercising better editorial judgment. On the other hand, the issue did successfully make it into every other prison it was sent to. We will try to be just a bit more careful in the future.
Paul and I would like to take a moment to salute the unsung folks who make it possible for you to read this newsletter each month. First there is Janie, who, if we had titles, functions in the capacity of production manager. Janie, along with Carrie, Steve, Cindy, Jim and anyone else handy, duplicate the master copy of the newsletter, then collate, staple, fold, label, stamp and mail the paper out to readers. Rollin serves as a sort of office manger. He accepts donations, forwards mail on to Paul and me, and lets Dan know of any changes in the mailing list. If we were a "real" paper, Dan would be our circulation manager. He maintains the mailing list and provides Janie with a fresh set of address labels each month.
While a lot of PLN readers know a bit about Paul and me, it is this core of volunteers who make us actually happen each month. Thanks to you all.
If any of our other outside readers in the Seattle area would like to help Janie and the others with the production of the newsletter, a task that requires only one afternoon a month, write to me and I will put you in touch with her. We will be needing people to help organize the hearing before the senate's Law and Justice Committee on the issue of returning computers to prisoners, and also to support our ongoing struggle against the abuses of power by the parole board. In short, we need to start building and outside support network.
There will be no Letters From Readers in this issue of the newsletter. The reason for this is that I want to try and print two lengthy letters, rather than a bunch of short ones. One of these letters is on the need of prisoners to educate themselves while on the inside, and the other has to do with the need to follow-up on the initiative article we printed in issue #5. These are both important subjects.
It cost Paul and I 55¢ to produce and mail out each copy of this newsletter [3¢ a page for copying 10 pages (30¢) plus 25¢ for postage]. While we can't cut our production costs any further, we can reduce the number of free copies being mailed out each month. On our next issue (#8) those readers on the drop list will have the words, "Last issue" on their address label. The only exceptions will be those we trade zines with, control unit, Marion, and death row prisoners, or those who in other ways contribute to our production. Accordingly, if your address label on issue #8 says "Last issue," you need to kick us down some money if you want to keep getting the newsletter.
Lastly, in this issue we have an article by Paul on the situation in the Middle East("Lines In The Sand"). I'm glad he wrote the piece as I was gathering material to put one together myself on that subject. What does U.S. policy in the Middle East have to do with prisoners' legal news? Nothing. But it does have something to do with democracy, and, more to the point, helps us to meet the political needs or our readers. Democracy cannot be exercised by those who are not well informed about the issues of the day.
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