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From the Editor

I welcome you to the 74th consecutive monthly issue of PLN. When we first published in 1990, the state of Washington attempted to deny delivery of PLN to every prisoner in the state. PLN made it clear that we'd challenge the ban in court, however, and senior DOC officials backed off. The years have blurred my memory, but I think I remember them saying something like, "Let them print their little newsletter. It'll never last. They'll fold within a year or two."

Ironically, the DOC official who spearheaded the early opposition to PLN, moved on to become a warden in another state. We were shocked and amazed when he started subscribing in 1993. And he has renewed every year since. Yet, he is just one of many unlikely subscribers to PLN. Among them are the Attorneys General of over a dozen states, a dozen or so state DOC heads, and wardens. At first we were puzzled by their willingness to subscribe, but one day it dawned on me why they do.

Prison is often viewed as the struggle between "Us and Them." Paul and I like to read Corrections Today, Corrections Compendium, and other trade magazines, in order to get an idea of what They are up to. It gives Us a unique (if rather limited) view into the mind-set of Them.

When Paul and I were in the same prison and in adjoining cells, one of us would be reading a corrections trade magazine and holler over to the other, "Hey, look what They're up to now. Can you believe this?!" It's easy to imagine wardens and DOC bureaucrats sitting around in their office cubicles reading PLN - every so often one would pipe-up to a co-worker, 'Hey ... check out what They're up to now. Can you believe this?!"

The Us and Them mind-set can be rather limiting, however. To look at the blue suits who work the tiers, or the serge suits who work in DOC headquarters, as The Enemy is to hold a very myopic view indeed. If you pull back and take a broader view of the struggle (For Justice -- For Equality), you'll see that the cops and bureaucrats are merely the agents of oppression. They are not its architects. So who is the architect? The long answer will be the subject of another day. The short answer? I'd call it Greed (but it has been known by many other names). Greed is the master architect of much of the injustice and oppression in the world today. Enough said.

Speaking of the trade magazines. I'd like to mention one in particular that I have developed a genuine respect for: Corrections Digest. At the end of many PLN articles, we list the source. You'll see Corrections Digest listed often. They are a ten-page weekly newsletter. They're incredibly quick. Much of the news they print is less than a week or two old. Their news articles are tightly written. They're able to pack a lot of information into ten pages.

One of the reasons I've never "plugged" Corrections Digest is the price. Since the majority of PLN readers are prisoners, few would be able to afford the subscription fee of $345 for 51 weekly issues. But if your library or law library subscribes, then you should check it out. If they don't then maybe you should have them try it. Corrections Digest, 5724 Highway 280 East, Birmingham, AL 35242-6919 (1-800-633- 4931) They say that a 30-day trial subscription available on request.

This issue of PLN is four pages longer than usual. For years weave been sitting on the lengthy Peru prison revolt article in this issue. Part of the reason we've held off on it is because it's so long. A PLN supporter, Jerry D., donated $100 to cover the increased printing cost for the extra four pages in this issue. Thanks to Jerry our readers can finally read the dramatic and gripping account of that struggle, appropriately enough on the tenth anniversary of the event.

On the good news front, hopefully you've noticed that we've started delivering (almost) on time again. For the last two years we've been chronically late. That is because we've always had to rely on volunteers to do the typesetting and layout - volunteers who have other jobs, school, etc. We now have a very talented, competent, full time staff person. (Please keep the checks, stamps, and money orders coming in ... so we can afford to actually pay her!) So you can look forward to receiving your PLN in a timely manner for the foreseeable future. Uhhh ... unless you're a prisoner in Texas, that is.

TDCJ headquarters in Huntsville has to review and approve each issue before they are delivered to Texas prisoners. They are supposed to complete this review within 72 hours, but they typically take weeks. So far, to our knowledge, no Texas prisoners have challenged the TDCJ in court on this issue. Prove me wrong and send me the court ruling. I'd love to publish a summary of it in PLN. But unless or until the ridiculous delay by the TDCJ is challenged, imprisoned PLN readers in Texas can expect continued delays.

A note to federal prisoners: when you pay for a subscription with money off your books, the B.O.P. sends us a check with your name only on it - no address. If the check is from a new subscriber, we can do nothing except hang onto it and wait. Hopefully a few months later we'll get a "Hey, where's my subscription?" letter, and only then will we be able to match the name on the check to a prisoner and his/her address. So ... be sure to always send us your full name and address on a separate piece of paper.

This month we begin a new feature, A Matter of Fact. This feature is similar to News in Brief, in that it packs a lot of information into a small space. Check it out, and let us know if you like this new feature. We always read the mail (even if we can't answer it all). If enough of you like A Matter of Fact, we'll keep running it.

That about wraps it up for this month. Enjoy reading this issue of PLN and pass it along to a friend when you're done. And as always, thank you - all of you - for your continued support. This is your magazine. We couldn't do it without you.

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