One of the changes, in addition to the rate increase, is that we have established a minimum donation of $5. We did this due to the huge amount of time, proportionately, that it takes to process small donations. After this month we will simply return all donations of less than $5, so please don't send any less. We will pro-rate prisoner subscriptions at $1.25 an issue as long as they send at least $5 per donation. Needless to say, it is a lot quicker and easier if readers just send the full subscription amount at once.
An ongoing problem that our mail volunteers have complained about is readers who wait until the last minute to renew their subscriptions and then complain when they miss an issue or two. We send renewal notices at least four months before your subscription expires, and the expiration date is indicated on your mailing label if it is less than 12 months away. If you renew when you get the renewal card or at least two months before expiration there will be no interruption in your PLN subscription. But if you wait until you get your final issue before renewing you will most likely miss at least one issue because, as the post office is delivering one issue to you, we are sending the next issue to the printer. Our volunteers become irritated at people who wait until their subscription expires before they renew and then complain about missing an issue. This also applies to changes of address. The post office does not forward PLN. So don't wait five or six months to give us a new address if you move. If you will be in transit let us know and we can inactivate your subscription until you get a final destination.
Since we first mentioned the idea of readers sponsoring trial subscriptions for their local media, judges, legislators, etc., it has gained quite a bit of popularity. Anyone wanting to sponsor a trial subscription can do so for $15 for 12 issues or $7.50 for six issues. Just send the money and tell us who you want the subscription to go to. So far the bulk of our readers who have sponsored trial subscriptions are located in the west (CA, WA, AZ, etc.). Is the media on the east coast, in the mid-west and south that well informed on prison issues that they wouldn't benefit from a few issues of PLN? Readers should also consider sponsoring subs for local TV and radio, especially college and community radio stations.
One reader recently asked if any judges in his state (WA) received PLN. Alas, none do. So we would encourage readers to consider sponsoring subscriptions to members of the judiciary in their state as well. If someone wants to do this for, say, all the federal judges in a given state, please contact Dan or me and we can work out the cheapest way of doing this.
Another big change has to do with back issues. We will still have complete sets of back issues available for $50 a year, with a free index. But all individual back issues will now cost $5 each. Readers can order any back issue they want at this rate, though. Prior to this single back issues were limited to whatever we had left over from prior print runs. By charging $5 each we can have photocopies made of any back issue requested so people don't have to buy an entire year's worth of PLN's to get one particular issue that they need.
Readers are also reminded that PLN does run ads at very reasonable rates. If you know anyone with a service or product that might interest PLN's readership you should encourage them to advertise with PLN. Ad rates are available on request--just send an SASE.
In July of this year the Washington DOC announced the termination of the Computer Pilot Project at the Washington State Reformatory. In doing so the DOC once again showed its usual disregard for programs with a proven rehabilitative impact. Efforts to forestall the program's demise were not successful, despite favorable media coverage and significant public and legislative support. The December issue of PLN will have an article detailing the twelve year struggle around computers in Washington prisons and preparations for the next phase. Anyone interested in becoming involved in this issue before then should contact me directly.
This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Attica uprising and the murder of George Jackson. We were well aware of the importance of this date and we asked three political prisoners with long involvement in the prison rights movement to do articles on the topic. Two agreed to do so, but the promised articles didn't reached us in time for this issue due to a shooting and lockdown at USP Leavenworth. One will be in the next issue.
Since PLN started, one of the saddest duties I have had as editor has been to note the passing of prison activists and PLN supporters. On July 18, 1996, Stephen Donaldson, the president of Stop Prison Rape (SPR) lost his struggle with AIDS and died. Donny, as he liked to be called, was a former federal prisoner. Upon his release from prison he became actively involved in efforts to stop the atrocity of prison rape, and in 1988 he became president of SPR. An eloquent writer and compelling speaker, Donny almost single-handedly put this topic on the national agenda of prison reform. His op ed pieces appeared in the largest media outlets in the country; he was interviewed on '60 Minutes" and other TV programs; he testified before legislative committees; and he wrote the SPR amicus brief in Farmer v. Brennan, the landmark case where the supreme court held that prisoners had a constitutional right to be protected from assault by their fellow prisoners. What made Donny such a compelling spokesperson on this topic was that he himself had been a victim of jail and prison rapes.
I met Donny in January of this year when he was in Washington to testify for the defense in a criminal obscenity prosecution. After having corresponded with him for several years I was happy to finally be able to meet him in person, as that rarely happens with most of my correspondents. Everyone at PLN is saddened by Donny's death. We send our condolences to his family and friends. SPR will continue its important work and can be contacted at: SPR, PO Box 286, Village Station, New York, NY 10014.
I hope you enjoy this issue of PLN. Please share it with others and encourage them to subscribe.
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