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Editorial Comments

by Ed Mead

Welcome to issue #1 of the second volume of our little newsletter. With the new year you will notice that we have added a more polished look to the paper. In the past Paul and I would type up the paper and paste in graphics from our respective cells; today we have a volunteer doing the desktop publishing for us. We may go back to doing the paper by hand at any time, as our new look is little more than an experiment at this point.

When we started the PLN it was going to be for a four to six months trial period, just to test the waters. The experience of publishing has taught us that there is a need for a newsletter addressed to the interests of prisoners and their loved on the outside. We will continue putting the paper out for as long as that interest remains. We are presently producing 300 copies of the newsletter for U.S circulation. We plan on obtaining a bulk mail permit and with it slowly increasing the number of PLN readers to around 500.

We will continue being directed toward Washington State prisoners, as it is here that we are seeking to build a base hem which to launch our struggle to extend democracy. But as you know, we are in a defensive mode these days. It is hard enough to just defend what we have. The U.S. president is on the verge of launching the nation into a major war without bothering with a congressional declaration of war, as required by the constitution. We who are the slaves of the state understand the importance of even bourgeois constitutional principles. We must defend them, even against those national leaders who are sworn to uphold the constitution but are in fact bent on subverting it. In other words, we will be doing much the same sort of work this year as we were doing last year.

We are starting 1991 with a budding outside support group: the Prison/Community Alliance. The group should be having its first public meeting in Seattle this month. It is made up of family members and will be focusing on such issues as getting rid of the parole board. For more information, call 859-4937 and ask for Carrie. There is much work to be done.

Here's something in the interesting observation department. Chase Riveland, Washington's corrections boss, was recorded in the minutes of the October 12, 1990, Sentencing Guidelines Commission meeting as making a point the PLN has been making for long time. According to the minutes, Riveland said, "that the state is currently locking up more property offenders and for longer terms under the SRA (Sentencing Reform Act) than ever before. The crime rate is still increasing." Also, this incarceration spiral is not going to solve the problem." Of course he then went on to justify the increasing use of prisons. No prisoncrat is going to let the public know how big a failure their system is, or to take any step that might result in a decrease in the size of their correctional bureaucracy.

Next month we will try to have an article on the parole board's use of post-commitment information when setting minimum terms, as well as something on the notion that prisoners must be able to demonstrate that they are rehabilitated before being paroled, and must do so in the absence of any definition or guidelines as to the meaning of the term. See you then. And don't forget to keep those donations of stamps and money coming in. It is through these contributions that we measure the need for this paper.

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