With this issue we start our fourth calendar year of printing PLN (we began our fourth publishing year back in January). Paul and I have been looking back on what we've been able to accomplish during this period and we feel pretty good about the newsletter's progress. The number of readers has slowly increased, our format has become increasingly more professional, and we believe the quality of information we've been able to provide you with has also improved. There is more we would like to have done, yet, considering the conservative national mood, we are fortunate to have even survived as a publication this long. There are two central reasons for this longevity--our readers and our volunteers.
First, our readers have consistently voted for our continued existence with their pocket books. Without your ongoing financial support we would have been history long ago. As it is, we enjoy a certain measure of economic security. When there has been extra money we've passed it on to you in the form of extra pages.
Secondly, even with your ongoing financial assistance, we would not have been able to be with you this long if it had not been for the dedication of our outside volunteers. The names of these workers are listed in the Staff Box on the last page of every issue. The PLN works like this: Paul and I write the various articles, and type and edit those from other contributors. We send the typed articles to Dan in New York, who, with a friend there, keyboards them into his computer and does the desktop publishing. He then prints out a master copy on his laser printer and mails the final product to Sandy in Seattle. Sandy takes the master to the duplication place and has the necessary number of copies printed up. She, along with friends when she can get them, also folds and staples the paper.
While Sandy is getting the printing and folding done, Janie is making the address labels from our database and contacting other volunteers with a reminder of the date for the upcoming mailing. They meet at the University Friends Center in Seattle on that date, which is the last Tuesday of each month (at 3:30 pm, for you folks in Seattle who can make it). Also there are Michael, Jim, Carol, and several other people who only occasionally make it to the mailing. Together they do the final step in putting the paper out, adding the labels, sorting, etc. Then Jim takes the final product to the post office for mailing. There's a bunch of special paper work he has to do because of our non-profit bulk mail permit. So when this whole process is done, the newsletter is then mailed to you.
Paul and I receive a lot of praise from readers for the work we do. We in turn thank both our subscribers and the dedicated volunteers for their continuing support. You are the ones who are making it possible for us to become a first rate publication.
The response to my offer to start a legal, philosophical and political study group by mail has not generated much support. As of this writing (3-19-93) there have been only three inquiries. One of those wrote and said: "I'd like to enroll in your law class. I need some good self-help law books." That was the complete text of his letter. Well, this idea was not conceived as a free law book program, but as a means of raising prisoner consciousness. I'll give it another try in about a year. Maybe there will be more interest then.
Now we come to what is for me a touchy subject. I am serving my 18th year for an assault in which neither of my police officer victims were so much as scratched. While I have litigated some aspects of my conviction, I've never launched a promotional campaign in support of my freedom. I have instead elected to use my time in an effort to build a struggle on the inside. That has now changed. Of course I will still be doing the political work I always do, but in addition I am going to make some noise about being so harshly treated. A friend has written a three-part series of articles on my situation that I am going to ask other publications to print. It would be unfair for us not to print them as well, since we clearly have the means. Accordingly, this issue of the paper will have two extra pages containing this series of articles (I will combine them into a single piece). The extra pages are so you will not be missing any of the legal news or political analysis at the expense of the space occupied by this article.
George Jackson taught us that we must resist the class enemy where ever we happen to find ourselves on his soil. Over the years I have tried to live by this injunction. In general I have little respect for political prisoners who spend their entire terms engaged in self-promotion. And it is in part this distaste that has inhibited my use of precious movement resources to secure my own release. However, it is now long past time for me to get out of prison. But in doing so I will not be using PLN resources or volunteers, and my use of the newsletter will be quite limited. I am doing it this time in the hopes of informing and possibly securing the help of outside readers who may in some way be willing to contribute to the furtherance of this process.
It should be noted that while Paul and I will run stories supporting the release of selected prisoners, this will only be for those confined for political reasons--those who are still in prison as a result of their efforts to further the struggle for justice. Without such a restrictive policy we would be flooded with requests from social prisoners seeking to overturn their unjust convictions. We simply do not have the space to report on the cases of everyone who has been wrongly imprisoned.
As you can see the PLN has a new look. We will be moving to as many as 16 pages per issue and expanding to a magazine type format. Until the dust from this process settles, you may be seeing us looking differently month to month. Be patient with us as we try to find the right combination of cost and format. No matter what form we eventually settle on, you will be getting more pages, and value, for your subscription dollar.
That's it for this month. If you have not contributed lately, now would be a good time to do so. We give over 38% of our subscriptions away to prisoners who do not have money (death row, control units, etc.) and the new format and extra pages have increased our production costs. If you support the work we do, then say so with your money or stamps. We're here for you, be there for us.
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