By Ed Mead
The main production run of the Prisoners' Legal News is a mere 300 copies. The printing and mailing costs for last issue was a very low $173 ($63 for printing, $85 for postage, and $25 for various other expenses like phone calls and photocopying). Last month we collected just $59 in donations from readers.
The PLN is published by me and another prisoner (Paul). Our main source of income is our prison jobs. I put in a lot of hours so average about $45 a month in wages; Paul earns less, We volunteer our time (as do our outside supporters) and pay our own money to get this newsletter to you each month. Most months the amount we have to pay is very small, or even nothing, because of your donations. But at other times, like now, the amount is quite large.
Today we are again in need of your financial assistance. If you like what we are doing, if you think we can have a positive impact on existing realities, then say it with dollars. If you can't afford to give something, then have a friend or family member make the donation for you. Send contributions of stamps and money to our Florida address (listed in the box on page two). Be there for us, so we can be here for you - every month.
In every issue of the paper we try to print as many letters from readers as we can make the space for. Sometimes the contents of a particular letter will raise the ire of some prisoncrat, perhaps more so than anything else in the rest of the paper. So let me take this opportunity to remind them, and anyone else who may have been upset by the contents of a letter printed in the PLN, that our letters section is not unlike the 'letters to the editor" section of any other paper. It may contain subjective facts or opinions that do not coincide with your particular brand of reality. You should treat the information you read there accordingly. If it is controversial, that's good. Controversy leads to struggle, and from struggle flows progress. Let's keep those letters coming in!
The work being done to launch the anti-parole board initiative campaign continues to grind on. The draft of our proposed new law is done. It came out to 32 double-spaced pages in length, and wound up being an implementation of the "determinate model," which turns the functions and duties of the board over to the courts. The Prison/Community Alliance (P/CA) is now in the process of obtaining a sample "name" for the new law from the appropriate state agency. We will not have this law fully modified or the initiative petitions printed up for some time. There is no rush since we are seeking a spot on the 1992 ballot. For now it is important for Washington state readers to know that P/CA continues to work on this, and that the PLN will keep you informed as the process unfolds. We will be needing your help when it comes time to get this project off the ground. More on this subject next month.
Some of our outside readers may feel we spend too much time and space on this state's parole board. There are a number of reasons for our doing so, not the least of which is a legitimate justice issue created by the dual sentencing system in this area. But in addition to that, the board represents a focal point for a much-needed philosophical debate around the question of crime and punishment. So far the public has been exposed to only one side of the issue, the version spoon-fed to them by the bourgeois media. Accordingly, they are not able to intelligently exercise their democratic rights, a process that requires an informed decision. We are seeking to bring the debate to the citizens of this state (in our own small way), and in doing so we use the parole board as a vehicle for demonstrating the wrongness of the status quo. You can help to expand the process by sharing our messages with other concerned people, both inside and out of prison.
That's all for now, dear readers. Enjoy this issue of the PLN. Be sure to pass it on so others can read it, too. And remember to send us some stamps or money. If not now, when? If not you, who?
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