By Paul Wright
Welcome to another issue of PLN. As we reported last month, the ACLU has filed suit against the Washington state parole board over their no-contact parole condition on Ed Mead, PLN's former coeditor, which terminated his involvement with PLN. So far the case has gotten some local publicity with minor articles in the Seattle Times (on the weather and obituary page) and Post-Intelligencer. National Public Radio interviewed both Ed and Frank Cuthbertson, our lawyer, and they have also been interviewed by journalist Nat Hentoff who will be doing an article on the suit. The Progressive has also reported on the suit. So in that sense the suit is already a "success" in terms of raising public awareness about prisoners' rights and free speech issues.
The attorney general, Talis Abolins, has responded on behalf of the parole board, with a boiler plate reply. When I asked Frank how he could tell it was a boiler plate reply he said "because he asked the court to stay the suit until we exhaust state remedies over loss of good time in a prison disciplinary hearing." The suit challenges only the parole boards conditions of release affecting Ed's involvement with PLN. We will be seeking a preliminary injunction shortly. Our readers will be kept posted as the suit progresses.
Everyone at PLN would like to thank Ellen Spertus who generously donated three sets of Microsoft Office Professional to PLN. This will enable us to synchronize our computer operations and, hopefully, achieve greater ease of operation for our computer stuff. Ellen's generosity is greatly appreciated. We wouldn't have been able to afford it and we were having some major problems with our word processing software, WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows, which does not work very well. The switch to MS Word, which does work, should make things go more smoothly now. We still need a 386 or higher computer to help with our desktop publishing end of things, anyone interested in donating one please contact me.
We continue to receive inquiries about how people will know when their subscription to PLN is going to expire. Institutional subscribers receive an invoice four months before their subscription expires. Four months before individual subscriptions expire they get a little card from me telling them that they need to donate if they want to keep getting PLN. Unless you've donated more than $10.00 in past that is the only notice you will get from us. Otherwise you'll get a letter from us the last month of your subscription to the effect that unless you donate, no more PLN. We are now printing the subscription expiration on all mailing labels if it is within one year of expiring. We would really appreciate it if you would donate on your own before we send you the card and/or letter. This saves us not only the money involved in printing and mailing the cards but, most importantly, the time and energy that goes into it. Commercial publications have whole sections of paid employees devoted to nothing but getting people to renew subscriptions. We don't have that luxury. Time and energy spent getting folks to renew their subscriptions takes us away from the time and energy we would otherwise use in improving PLN, writing articles, outreach, etc.
We also rely solely on reader donations to publish. So when you donate and/or re-subscribe please donate generously. We are also sending letters to our readers in the legal and/or correctional professions asking them to renew their subscriptions as institutional subscriptions, i.e. at $35.00 a year. That is because the institutional subscribers essentially serve the function of subsidizing our indigent subscribers. So as our number of indigent readers grows we need to increase our institutional subscriber base, otherwise we will be forced to cut back on our number of free subscriptions because we have to pay the printer and post office. So keep this in mind when you re-subscribe.
Please examine your mailing label and make sure it is correct. Prisoners, make sure we have your prison number correct. We occasionally get issues returned to us by prison mailrooms because DOC's numbers are mis-matched or such. This means you don't get your PLN and we have to pay the post office to get it back. Make sure your address is correct, it is amazing how often people don't know their own address, or if they do, they don't share it with us despite ordering a subscription.
With this issue of PLN we hope to begin a regular practice of mentioning other prison groups and publications which offer services and publications that will complement PLN. Basically, we try not to duplicate the work and effort that others do. We want to fill the legal and informational needs of those interested and involved in the criminal justice system and prison struggle. So we tend to assume that you are already informed about other publications and get those as well. Please support other elements of the prison press, all have been supportive of PLN over the years.
On page 12 and 13 of the July 1994 issue of PLN, we excluded the citation in `RFRA has Retroactive Applicaltion'. The cite is: Lawson v. Dugger, 844 F.Sup 1538 (SD FL. 1994). Enjoy this issue of PLN and share it with others after you are done with it.
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