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Welcome to issue number one of the third volume of the Prisoners' Legal News. Paul and I are starting our third publishing year with a major trimming of the newsletter's mailing list. You should be sure to look at the address label on the last page of this issue. If the label has "Final Notice" or "Last Issue" printed on it, then you will be dropped from the mailing list unless we hear from you soon. A Last Issue notice means that you have received the PLN for some time, but have not recently communicated with or otherwise supported the paper. Such notices are the only means we have of making room for new readers, as our mailing list has a fixed ceiling we cannot yet afford to increase.
Paul and I are pleased to have a mailing list that contains so many generous and dedicated people. Your ongoing expressions of support make it an enjoyable experience for us to publish the PLN each month. Yet we do have a few of the other kind of readers; the ones who want us to work on their personal cases, do legal research on their convictions, mail photocopies to them, provide them with pen pals, let me once again remind you that we are not a legal aid agency, nor do we provide a dating service for inmates.
Now let's talk about money: It costs Paul and me approximately sixty-nine cents to put this and every other issue of the PLN into your hands (40 cents copying, collating, and first stapling, and another 29 cents for postage). Multiply this by several hundred times and we are talking about a fairly substantial amount of money each month. Moreover, this sum does not include the cost of postage for correspondence, extra photocopying, phone calls to volunteers, and related charges that come up every month.
Above and beyond the money, however, is the fact that all the time and energy put into the paper, by Paul and I as well as our outside volunteers, is also a part of the cost of getting this newsletter to you each month. Paul and I read every major advance sheet, reporter series legal digest, and many newsletters and newspapers in an effort to bring you the very latest legal citations and news of significant prison-related events. Our outside volunteers do the computer work, printing, folding stamping, labeling, etc. All of us work on the paper because we believe in what the PLN is trying to accomplish. We ask only one thing from you, and that is for your ongoing financial support. You have a method of telling us just how important what we are doing is to you, a vote in which the ballot is measured by the yardstick of your contributions.
Last month I completed the annual accounting for the newsletter, a task I do every December. Our financial losses to date for the publishing life of the PLN is only $10.05. Not too shabby, huh? A copy of the PLN's balance sheet for both 1990 and 1991 is available to anyone requesting it, provided they send me a self-addressed envelope and two stamps (one for the mailing and the second stamp for copying costs). This document will show a month by month record of every cent we've taken in, as well as how much we've spent and what we spent it for. People who meet our approval may also obtain an additional listing that includes everyone who has ever contributed to the newsletter, the amounts donated, and the date the support was given. Our books are always open to you, because it is your money that keeps us publishing each month. Still, when we are short on donations, every extra cent needed comes out of Paul's and my pockets, paid for from our miserable prison wages.
We are slaves of the state, kept in a degrading state of childlike dependency and irresponsibility, without so much as a semblance of the democracy so often touted by our government. That condition cannot begin to change unless we first have prisoner controlled vehicles of communication, such as the PLN. It is our duty as rights conscious convicts to support this effort. That's what I did for the papers I supported. That's what you should be doing as well. Let's not only close that $10 gap of red ink but go on to create a little financial buffer for leaner days to come.
Last month we reported the case of Mead v. Reed,__F.2d__(9 Cir. 1991), in which the U.S. Court of Appeals held that prison law libraries must maintain (keep current) all legal materials in their inventory. While the work done on the appeal was written by Jose Gonzalez, my co-plaintiff in the suit, it is still pleasing to report a ruling that was handed down on an appeal from a civil rights suit I filed. I won my first prisoner rights litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals some twenty years ago, in the case of Mead v. Parker, 464 F.2d 1108 (9 Cir. 1972). I've always experienced a certain sense of satisfaction from a win, even if it is only a small one. But this latest victory may not be permanent. The other day I learned that the state has filed a petition for an en banc rehearing. I'll share future developments with you as they unfold.
Due to an editing error, the December 1991 edition of PLN was not labeled on the masthead as such. Instead it stated Vol. 2, No. II. November 1991. The December issue had the front-page article "Monroe's Struggle Against Double Celling..." December was listed on the bottom of pages 2-9. We apologize to our readers for any confusion this may have caused.
Enough for this issue. Be sure to keep searching for knowledge of today's political realities. An understanding of what's going on in the world is not all that hard to come by. Answers will not be found in the ideology of the right wing conservatives, though. They are the ones who support the legalized murder of prisoners and who tirelessly work to keep us in prison for longer and longer terms. The reactionaries are not our friends. It has served me well to look to the left for real solutions. We have books to share if you'd like to know more. Remember: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. Or, as Robert Byrne put it, "The purpose of life is a life of purpose." We'll be seeing you next month....
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