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Editorial Comments

By Ed Mead

First of all, readers should have noticed that we printed fourteen pages of the PLN last month, four more than our usual number. The reason for this bonus was due to an unexpected increase in contributions from prisoners and family members. I have no idea why donations are up some months and down others. If there was some way I could figure it out we would have "high donation" issues every month. Anyway, we did well in July and so were able to give you a little bonus with the August issue. When we do well on the financial front we'll pass the benefits on to you. Our income for the month of July was $378.63, and the cost of producing and mailing 916 copies of the July issue was $369.72, leaving us with a whopping surplus of $8.91 left over.

On the negative side, the August issue looked like a piece of trash. That was because we have a new person doing the computer work, and he's still learning how to do it. We should be looking better this month.

While I have not formally mentioned this for several months, readers should know that the PLN 's books are always open for inspection by our readers. A complete listing of all the money we've received and what we spent it for, broken down into monthly categories and including the entire publishing life of the newsletter, is available upon request. Provide me with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, along with two additional stamps to cover copying costs, and I'll get you a photocopy of a complete financial status report for the newsletter. In a big sense, this is your paper. Paul and I hold ourselves accountable to you.

I don't have a whole lot else to say this month so I'll just ramble on some. Back in the early sixties I was a young convict housed in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Television inside of federal prisons was a relatively new thing in those days. It consisted of a big black and white set located on the flats of each wing.

Just a prisoners of today's age used to watch cop shows like Miami Vice (everyone of course claimed it was just for the music), us old time convicts used to look forward to watching Elliot Ness and "The Untouchables." Then one day we were suddenly prevented from watching our The Untouchables any more, not only at Leavenworth but at all federal prisons! Why? Well, it seems one episode of the program depicted a federal prison guard taking a bribe. That was the end of that!

The years have passed, although the times haven't. In July there was what the news media called a "riot" at the federal prison in Leavenworth. What was the cause of this disturbance? Well, if you guessed "watching a movie," you'd be correct. About 300 prisoners took over the food service area, auditorium and recreation yard, not because of intolerable conditions or high levels of tension on the inside, but, according to BOP officials, because prisoners had watched the 1991 Academy Award-winning film Silence of the Lambs . It seems the movie is about a serial killer and includes some scenes of graphic violence against law-enforcement officers and others. So the movie was the cause of the disturbance; just as there would be no bribery of prison guards if we didn't get such crazy notions from watching TV. Yeah!

Let me close this off with a quote from Frederick Douglass, the famous Abolitionist. He said: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to love freedom yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground." See you next month.

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