by Paul Wright
Welcome to another issue of PLN. In the September issue I asked what readers thought of our News in Brief column and whether we should keep it or eliminate it. About 20 readers responded and all want to keep it, no one voiced any opposition to retaining the column so we'll be keeping it. I'm pleased with this outcome as I kind of like it.
A lot of our readers send us newspaper clippings on prison related developments in their area and we greatly appreciate this, a lot of our stories and news items come from these clippings. If you send us clippings please make sure that the date of publication and the source are noted on it, without the date we have no way of knowing the timeliness of the material and the source is important too. Please keep the clippings coming.
Starting with the next issue we will have a new article submissions box that will run in every issue. Throughout our existence we have sought to encourage our readers to submit articles for the simple reason that it is impractical for Dan and I to write everything in PLN nor do we want to. We want our readers to participate in the process as well. We occasionally get letters from readers asking "why don't you have more articles about what is going on here in this state " More often than not it is because no one is submitting articles about events in that state nor sending us clippings or other information about local developments. You will note that we have fairly consistent and good quality coverage of events in a number of states. That is because we have folks who regularly contribute articles on local developments that are of interest to a national audience.
We are especially interested in news articles about prison struggle because it is either ignored by the corporate media or they only report the DOC or BOP versions of events. We also want legal research articles covering one topic, such as William Van Poyck's article on page 1 of the last PLN. Over the years I have usually written the legal research articles in PLN that focus on a legal overview of the relevant case law on a particular issue. I enjoy doing so but such articles are extremely time-consuming to write, requiring many hours of research. We encourage our jail house lawyer readers to submit such articles as they provide a good starting point to prisoners litigating such issue, especially those locked down in control units with no law library access. For every article that we publish on these issues we will give the author a one year gift subscription to PLN. If you have any questions please write. Potential legal topics we would like to cover in future issues are: law library and court access, disciplinary hearings, qualified immunity, injunctive and declaratory relief, statutory litigation (i.e. ADA, FLSA, Title VII, RFRA, etc.) and international law on prisoner rights litigation. To get an idea of what we want in terms of article length, etc. just look through back issues of PLN.
As we go into five straight years of publication and continued growth we are getting more quality input from readers (i.e. article submissions, copies of legislation, news clippings, etc.) across the country and we are becoming more of a prison struggle network. This is a direction we would like to take. We want more input from readers so that we are less the originators of legal and political analysis, commentary and news and are more the distributors of it. We think that participation is important because we want PLN to be a publication that affects reality rather than just reports it.
As mentioned below we are doing sample mailings to reach more people. I would especially like to ask our prisoner readers to help let folks know about PLN and encourage them to subscribe. Due to the spread out nature of the American prison system we have a hard time reaching prisoners. To do so we need your help. Let others know about us, we can send you PLN flyers and bundles of 25 copies to pass along (it would help if you send us 10 stamps to offset the postage costs) to potential readers. We think that we offer information that all prisoners should be aware of, namely what your rights are, what is being done for and against your interests, etc. So posting our flyers on bulletin boards, in law libraries, mess halls, in prison papers, etc. are all good ways to get the word out. We were just hit with two back-to-back postage rate increases (postage is now our second biggest expense after printing) and the only way we can keep our costs down is if we increase our subscriber base. By reaching more people, especially those in prison, eye also increase our effectiveness and impact.
In the December, 1994, editorial I thanked the Peradam foundation for their generous grant which allowed us to purchase much needed computer equipment to use in the desk top publishing of PLN. In December they gave us an additional grant of $1,500 which will be used to fund our outreach mailing to several thousand public defenders, prison law libraries, prisoners and other potential subscribers. Such outreach mailings help us reach more people and increases our institutional subscriber base which in turn will allow us to increase our number indigent readers. We believe that this is a strategy that puts the extra money into expanding PLN while we remain self sufficient in terms of our regular operation. This ensures we do not become reliant on grants or such to publish which we believe is crucial to ensure PLN's long-term survival and independence. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Peradam once more for their generous donation. Their recent donation will allow us to do supplemental mailings for an entire year.
I would also like to remind readers that PLN is a § 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible. Many companies will make a matching grant if an employee makes such a donation. In past issues of PLN we thanked one of our readers, Ellen Spertus, who generously donated several copies of Microsoft software to PLN. This has greatly improved our computer operations and on top of that Microsoft made a matching gift contribution as well. So again, thank you Ellen and Microsoft.
Don't forget to tell friends, family members, etc. about us as well. Please help us expand our subscriber base. Enjoy this issue of PLN and pass it along to others.
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