By Paul Wright
Welcome to another issue of PLN. Readers may recall that in the July, 1994, issue we ran an article concerning the suit filed by Ed Mead (PLN's former co-editor) and myself against the Washington state parole board. After being released from prison in 1993 the parole board placed a parole condition on Ed whereby he was forbidden from having any contact with convicted felons, namely the bulk of PLN's readers and myself. The Washington ACLU took the case and filed suit on our behalf in federal court in Tacoma. Our attorney, Frank Cuthbertson, did an excellent job arguing our case that the parole board=s ban was in retaliation for the critical articles published in PLN and operated as a prior restraint on the press and violated our right to free speech. Evidence supporting this was the fact that Ed's federal parole officer construed a similar no contact condition to forbid only actual physical contact, letters and phone calls were okay. Likewise, Ed's state parole officers repeatedly questioned him about his involvement with PLN and made it clear that the purpose of the restriction was to prevent his involvement in PLN.
In May, 1995, Judge Bryan issued an unpublished ruling that upheld the restriction and dismissed the suit. The court ignored our first amendment and free speech argument and circuit law that parolee=s have more rights than prisoners and focused on the no contact order. The court relied on Turner v. Safley to hold that if prisons can prevent prisoners from having contact with each other then the parole board can prevent felons from having contact with each other. Needless to say, this is a bad ruling which reaffirms the principle that speech may be free but it=s not cheap. So if you=re ever asked to name the countries you go to prison for editing a magazine remember to include the U.S. We are appealing the case to the ninth circuit.
In early June the Seattle Times did a front page piece on PLN. Dan and I were surprised the article turned out as well as it did. The reporter, Barbara Serrano, did not engage in any prisoner bashing as we had feared. Until now PLN had been largely ignored by the corporate media, we went about our business and they went about theirs. We received about a dozen or so inquiries from Times readers asking for a sample copy of PLN.
In our article submissions box we request articles and news items from our readers. This doesn=t mean that we want fake or bogus stuff. In over five years of publishing we are proud of the fact that we've never knowingly published something that was wrong or incorrect, factwise anyway. Larry Chambers, a federal prisoner at Leavanworth, sent us a bogus court order purporting to be issued by a federal judge in Detroit. On it's face the order looked real enough and had the judge making racist statements. As is our usual practice, we wrote to confirm the veracity of the order. It turns out the order was faked, the judge sent an affidavit to the effect that he had never issued such an order and the case number was also bogus and the matter had been referred to the US attorney's office for investigation, turns out Chambers sent copies of the same bogus order to numerous other media outlets. The point I'm making is please don't waste our time with fake and bogus information. Beyond wasting scarce time and resources is the fact that it has the potential of damaging our credibility as a source of reliable information. We've worked hard so that AI read it in PLN@ means something. Chambers isn't a PLN subscriber.
In last month=s editorial Dan got after prisoners who send only the subscription card with Aindigent prisoner rate@ marked and don=t send any donation or even a letter. The flip side of that is attorneys who only subscribe at the individual rate and not at the institutional rate. It is the institutional subscriptions that subsidize our indigent readership in control units and on death row.
We operate on the concept of Afrom each according to his abilities...@ as a general rule legal professionals are better able to afford donations of $35 or even higher than prisoners. When attorney subscriptions expire we are sending them an invoice asking them to upgrade to an institutional subscription. So if you=re a lawyer and can afford it, please upgrade your subscription. No one at PLN gets a salary and with more of your clients getting locked up, PLN needs to get around more. Given the outrageous prices most legal publications charge we think ours are quite reasonable. In five years of publishing the only lawyer who has donated more than the $35 for an annual subscription is Dan Manville who has donated $200 (the hall of shame award goes to Laners and Scales, the Seattle law firm who sent a donation of $5 at the time they held a $180,000 DOC legal services contract).
We frequently get inquiries about reprinting articles from PLN. We are anti copyright as long as our materials are published in non profit publications and we are cited as the source of the material. Lately there has been a spate of articles being plagiarized from PLN (the worst was the Alabama reader who took a large portion of one of my articles and resubmitted it to PLN as an original submission!) While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery outright plagiarism is an indication of intellectual bankruptcy.
Anyone wanting copies of the December, 1993, March, April, June, July, Aug., Sep, Dec., 1994 issues and all of 1995 issues of PLN should send $1 each while supplies last. Full sets are available at $35 per year. Enjoy this issue of PLN and pass sit along to others when you=re done with it.
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