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Prison Press Reviews

By Paul Wright

There are a number of excellent publications that deal with the American prison system. We exchange with most of them and try to inform our readers of these publications by periodically reviewing them. Because we have had a large increase in new readers, I am going to list some publications that we have reviewed in the past but which are still timely and good sources of information.

Many prisons have "prison newspapers" and I am not including them in my review. While most of these papers are of excellent technical quality, the problem is that the prison administration foots the printing bill and censors the content before it is published. Like they say: "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." Which results in a lot of coverage about the local prison football game, the latest pearls of wisdom from the warden, but generally little of substance. For example, the cell houses can be burning, tear gas wafting through the yard and the national guard storming the prison and not a word will appear in the prison paper. Complaints of brutality, abuses, etc., seldom see the light of day because those committing the abuses review the copy before it gets printed. From my own experience I know that what tyranny fears the most is the light of day and public scrutiny. This isn't intended as a "put down" to the many prisoners who devote a lot of time and effort into publishing a good prison paper, it just states the reality that ends up dictating content.

If you know of any prison or human rights related publications that we haven't mentioned, please drop us a line and let us know so we can review it. We encourage prison book reviews from our readers, so please feel free to send them. One reader commented that he had never seen me give a publication a "bad" review. The reason for this is that we don't have the room to plug all the good publications that are out there as often as we would like to, so there's no sense in wasting space, time and effort to plug junk.

A Brief History of the New Afrikan Prison Struggle . This is a 24 page booklet by New Afrikan Prisoner of War Sundiata Acoli. It gives a chronological perspective, with analysis, of the New Afrikan prison movement in the US. It has numerous pictures as well. It costs $4.00 from: Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign, P.O. Box 579154, Chicago, IL 60657-9154.

The Iron House Drum is the quarterly publication of the Native American Prisoners Rehabilitation Research project. It is published by Native American prisoners and includes information on challenging restrictions on native religious practices in prison, resources for native prisoners, and more. It contains articles on prison in general and poetry, letters and publication reviews. $15.00 for a one year subscription to: The Iron Horse Drum, 2848 Paddock Lane, Villa Hills, KY, 41017.

Convictions is an irregularly published full size magazine featuring articles, stories, poetry, art, pen pal ads, photography and humor by and about prisoners. $12.00 for a one year subscription, $10.00 for prisoners. Write: Convictions, P.O. Box 1749, Corvallis, OR 97339-1749.

Endeavor is a bi-monthly tabloid written and published by prisoners on death row in Texas. It includes information on the death penalty in general, living conditions, etc., on death row as well as articles, poetry, and more. A years subscription is $10.00 to: Endeavor, P.O. Box 23511, Houston, TX 77228-3511.

Walkin' Steel is the quarterly newsletter of the Committee to End the Marion Lockdown. It deals primarily with control units across the US and efforts to close them down. Recent issues have focused on the campaign to prevent the opening of a new control unit prison in Florence, CO, by the federal government. Each issue lists contacts in different states who are also opposing these control units. They also have other resources, such as videos, books, etc., available to help educate the public about prison issues. $10.00 for a year to: CEML, P.O. Box 578172, Chicago, IL 60657-8172.

Prison News Service is a bi-monthly tabloid that is published in Canada but deals largely with prison struggle in the US as well as native, Political Prisoner and other issues. This is an outstanding publication. $10.00 for one year to: PNS, P.O. Box 5052, Stn. A, Toronto, ONT, M5W 1W4, Canada.

Bayou La Rose is a quarterly tabloid that covers prison, native, worker and environmental struggle and issues. Each issue is jam packed with news and information. They also publish art and poetry. $10.00 for one year to: Bayou La Rose, P.O. Box 5464, Tacoma, WA 98415-0464.

Arm The Spirit is a bi-monthly newsletter that covers the clandestine resistance movements in the industrialized countries and elsewhere. They cover the plight and struggle of political prisoners around the world. Recent issues have focused on control units in the US, political prisoners in Chile, Puerto Rican nationalist prisoners in the U.S. and more. They are about the only English language source for much of the material they cover. One year subscription for $12.00 to: ATS, P.O. Box 57584, Jackson Station, Hamilton, ONT. L8P 4X3, Canada.

Antigone is the quarterly newsletter of the US Committee on Corrections. It focuses primarily on events in Michigan but includes information from other parts of the country. It includes poetry, humor and articles. $7.00 for one year to: Antigone, P.O. Box 308, Farmington, MI, 48332.

Citizens for Justice is a small bi-monthly newsletter for the group of the same name. Their primary focus is on wrongly convicted individuals. They also cover prison conditions and events, primarily in Washington state. $10.00 for one year to: Citizens for Justice, 2201 Henry St., Bellingham, WA 98225.

Creations is a monthly newsletter by the organization of the same name. They cover resources and news of interest to prisoners around the country. Recently they have focused on efforts to halt abusive telephone service by DOCs. One year for $4.00 to: Creations, P.O. Box 2403, Burlington, NC 27216-2403.

Stars and Bars is a monthly newsletter by Criminal Justice ministries. It focuses primarily on the Iowa state prison system but features articles, stories, poems and such of interest to prisoners elsewhere. Subscriptions are $10.00 a year from: Criminal Justice Ministries, P.O. Box 70033, Des Moines, IA 50311.

CURE is a small bi-monthly newsletter published by Citizens United to Rehabilitate Errants. It features news and notices about CURE events across the country (it has chapters in about 35 states), as well as on legislative developments in Washington D.C. that will impact prisoners. Costs $4.00 a year to: CURE, P.O. Box 2310, Washington D.C. 20013.

FAMM Gram is a rapidly growing bi-monthly newsletter published by Families Against Mandatory Minimums. They are seeking to mobilize public opinion against the draconian laws in this country that set mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenses regardless of the individual's history or circumstances. Each issue carries information and news on mandatory sentences, updates on efforts to abolish these laws and also general prison news. They also list affiliate chapters in about 20 states. One year subscription for $10.00 to: FAMM, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. #200, Washington D.C. 20004.

Justice Watch is a bi-monthly newsletter that publishes news, articles, poetry and art dealing with prisoners. Subscriptions are $10.00 for one year to: Justice Watch, 932 Dayton St. Cincinnati, OH 45214.

Love and Rage is an autonomist monthly tabloid that covers worker, environmental, squatter, etc., struggles in the U.S. and abroad. Every issue has at least one page devoted to prison news and struggle, as well as listing groups who are supportive of prison issues. Subscriptions are $10.00 for one year to: Love and Rage, P.O. Box 3, Prince Street Station, New York, NY 10012.

MIM Notes is the monthly tabloid of the Maoist International Movement. Each issue covers political news and analysis of events in the U.S. and overseas. It has a strong commitment to covering prison struggle and each issue invariably has a bit of prison news. Subscriptions are $10.00 per year to: MIM Notes, P.O. Box 3576, Ann Arbor, MI 48106.

Nuclear Resister is a monthly tabloid newspaper that covers anti-nuclear resistance around the world. It focuses on anti-nuclear activists doing time in prison because of their anti-nuke activities. Subscriptions are $12.00 per year to: Nuclear Resister, P.O. Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733.

Out of Time is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Out of Control, a lesbian support group for political prisoners. It covers issues affecting women and lesbian prisoners in general and women political prisoners in particular. Subscriptions are $10.00 per year from: Out of Time, 3543 18th St. P.O. Box 26, San Francisco, CA 94110.

California Prisoner is a bi-monthly tabloid that focuses on events affecting California state prisoners. Each issue has columns on diverse subjects that affect prisoners everywhere such as visiting, diet, medical advice, etc. While a lot of the information is specific to California prisoners, much of it applies to prisoners everywhere. A very good paper. $5.00 a year for prisoners, $10.00 for free people to: Prisoner Rights Union, P.O. Box 1019, Sacramento, CA, 95812.

USA: A Look at Reality is a bi-monthly tabloid human rights monitor. Each issue covers a specific aspect of the American criminal (in)justice system. The latest issue reports and analyzes the last session of the U.S. Supreme Court in a form of battle damage assessment. Past issues have covered the subject of violence in prison, racism in the death penalty and other subjects. It presents in-depth coverage that smaller publications, like PLN , are unable to provide. Subscriptions are $10.00 a year to: Quixote Center, P.O. Box 5206, Hyattsville, MD 20782.

Storm Warning is an anti-militarist publication covering resistance to and within the U.S. armed forces. It continues to provide news of the GI's who refused to participate in the U.S. war against Iraq. It regularly discusses military prison and similar topics that get little coverage elsewhere or have long been forgotten by the rest of the media. Subscriptions are $10.00 for one year to: Storm Warning, P.O. Box 95172, Seattle, WA 98145-2172.

Prison Project Journal is the quarterly magazine of the ACLU's Prison Project. It is an excellent publication covering legal news and developments with analysis of cases impacting on prisoner rights litigation. It provides updates on cases the Project is litigating and also offers various publications and resources. Recent issues have focused on community organizing against prisons, alternatives to prison and more. $25.00 a year for free people, $2.00 a year for prisoners. Write: National Prison Project, 1875 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20009.

Lifelines is published by the Life Long branch of CURE. It focuses on prisoners serving life sentences or long terms in prison. Past issues have covered conjugal visiting programs, lifers clubs and such. Subscriptions are $2.00 per year to: Life Long/CURE, P.O. Box 1167, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

Turning Point is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Missouri CURE. It focuses primarily on Missouri but has news of interest for others. Recent issues have covered the struggle against the death penalty and control units, visiting and more. Subscriptions are $10.00 a year to: Turning Point, P.O. Box 29041, St. Louis, MO 63112.

Shut Them Down is the newsletter of the Colorado Coalition to Shut Down Isolation Prisons. It focuses on community organizing to halt the proliferation of control unit prisons and is especially concerned about the federal BOP's plans to open a control unit prison in Colorado. It lists meetings, activities, rallies and vigils around the subject. Subscriptions are $10.00 a year to: Rocky Mountain Peace Center, 1520 Euclid, Boulder, CO 80302.

The Fortress Economy is a fantastic pamphlet published by the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) that exposes the blatant policy failure of the government's prison building binge of the last decade. It analyzes prisons as economic institutions and the policy dynamics that are driving prison construction. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning the "why" behind prisons. $2.00 to: AFSC, 1501 Cherry St. Philadelphia, PA, 19102-1479.

Addicted Mothers, Imprisonment and Alternatives is a 40 page booklet published by the New York Coalition for Criminal Justice. It focuses on the problems faced by women battling drug and alcohol addictions, most of them with small children, and their rapidly growing population inside the prison system. The booklet presents the facts and figures that make up the affected populations and also gives the solutions, within a reform context, and lists some of the programs that have successfully dealt with and helped these families. The booklet is available for $5.00 from: New York State Coalition for Criminal Justice, 362 State St. Albany, NY 12210.

Update is the quarterly newsletter of the New York State Coalition for Criminal Justice. It is an excellent publication filled with news, statistics and other information dealing with the New York State prison system and issues affecting prisoners. Subscriptions are $10.00 a year from the above address.

Bibliography of Selected Prison Cases is a 60 page book written by South Dakota prisoner Roger Flittie. It contains a listing of legal cases involving prisoner rights, damage awards and other legal information. It also includes an appendix that lists numerous prisoner rights groups, publications across the country and sources of legal information. Cost is $12.00 money order to: Prison Information Service, P.O. Box 616, Sioux Falls, SD 57101.

Prison Discipline Study is the report issued by the Prisoners Rights Union. It is based on a survey sent to some 600 prisoners, lawyers, family members and others involved in the penal system across the country concerning the use of force and brutality in the Amerikan prison system. Not surprisingly it found that brutality and violence is the norm across the country. They have a 50 page academic article that interprets the information called "The Myth of Humane Imprisonment." It is an excellent study, especially now that the Rodney King episode has brought the issue of state violence more clearly into focus. Cost is $5.00 to: Prison Discipline Study, 1909 6th St., Sacramento, CA 95814.

PWA-RAG is the newsletter of the Prisoners With AIDS-Rights Advocacy Group. It deals solely with the topic of prisoners with AIDS or who are HIV positive. Each issue is packed with information on new treatments for the illness, prison conditions affecting prisoners with AIDS, struggles around the AIDS issue in prison, medical tips and more. $10.00 for one year's subscription to: PWA-RAG, P.O. Box 2161, Jonesboro, GA 30237.

New Studies on the Left: The Prison Issue is a special double issue of New Studies on the Left that gives and exhaustive and detailed look at the U.S. prison system. It also contains very interesting articles on the German prison system and how the control unit concept perfected in Germany in the 70's was transplanted to the U.S. For people new to prison issues this is the publication to read. It gives an excellent overview and introduction to the problems and issues facing prison activists, the reality of the prison system and more. Well produced with extensive graphics and illustrations. It also devotes attention to political prisoners and prisoners of war in the U.S. prison system. Cost is $10.00 to: Saxifrage Publications, 1484 Wicklow St., Boulder, CO 80303.

One Off is a 60 page booklet written by British prisoners Paul Ross and Andrzy Jakubczyk. It gives a detailed look at the British prison system concerning use of social isolation and subjugation, manipulation of public awareness, control units, the role of the judiciary, etc. It contains numerous graphs, appendices and statistics. While focused on Britain many of the issues and problems, and the conclusions drawn by the authors, are equally valid in the US. An excellent book. Cost is $8.00 international money order to: Nicki Jameson, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX, England.

The Citebook is just what the title says. It contains numerous citations of cases affecting prisoners on a variety of subjects, including criminal case law. It is organized by topic and gives a good starting point for prison litigators needing cases to support their lawsuits. Cost is $17.00 from: Starlite Inc., P.O. Box 20967, St. Petersburg, FL 33742.

The Outlander is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Washington state prisoner Tom Langbehn. It contains news, articles and poems. Past issues have covered conditions in Washington state control units, riots in Montana and more. Send a donation to: The Outlander, P.O. Box 585, Mountainlake Terrace, WA, 98043-0585.

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons is a bi-annual magazine that publishes articles and discussion papers by prisoners and former prisoners. Each issue usually deals with a theme. The most recent issue, for example, covers prison education with several articles on the topic. Subscriptions are $10.00 a year to: Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, P.O. Box 60779, University Outlet, Edmonton, T6G 2S9, Canada.

Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty publishes a quarterly newsletter of the same name. Each issue focuses on the death penalty as a national topic and how it is specifically being fought against in Washington state. It includes book reviews, news, events and statistics. To subscribe send a donation to: WCADP, 705 Second Ave. Suite 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

Odyssey is a very well produced 130 page quarterly magazine edited by former Massachussets prisoner Luke Janusz. The Spring 1992 issue contains articles on riots by prison officials, the death penalty, restorative justice, psychology, medical services in prison and more. It also includes several interviews with a Boston journalist, the mother of a murder victim, and father Dan Berrigan. It offers an excellent look at the American penal system, both its reality, its history and the underlying philosophy behind it. It has extensive photographs and illustrations as well. Subscriptions are $16.00 a year to: Odyssey, P.O. Box 14, Dedham, MA 02026.

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