Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

From the Editor

Longtime PLN readers may recall that in early 1994 Ed Mead, PLN's former co-editor, and I filed suit against the Washington State Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB, aka the parole board). The suit challenged the "no association" parole condition they had placed on Ed that prohibited from having contact with felons.- whether in person, by mail, phone or through third parties. They were especially adamant about Ed communicating with me for the purposes of editing PLN. The Washington ACLU filed suit on our behalf contending the restriction violated our first amendment rights. See: Mead v. ISRB. [PLN, July, 1994] In an unpublished ruling, federal judge Robert Bryan of Tacoma dismissed the suit holding that even though we had produced evidence showing the ISRB's intent was to shut down PLN, parolees' had no more free speech rights than prisoners, thus, the restriction was permissible.

We appealed the ruling to the ninth circuit, which heard oral argument on the case in August, 1996. In October, 1996, Ed was released from parole supervision and in February, 1997, the ninth circuit dismissed the suit as moot. The upshot is that once more the state got away with violating someone's right to free speech. In this case, Ed faced spending the rest of his life in prison, literally, for publishing or editing a magazine. While much attention is focused on press freedom in other countries incidents like this garner little if any attention within the U.S.

For the first time in over 21 years Ed is free from overt control by the state of Washington. He has moved to San Francisco where he is well employed at a job in the computer industry, using the skills he learned in the in-cell computer program at WSR that he fought long and hard to get. We are very grateful to the ACLU of Washington for sponsoring the suit and to Seattle attorneys Mike Kipling and Frank Cuthbertson for the excellent job they did representing us in state and federal court on that issue.

PLN subscribers in Texas continually complain about the lengthy delays they experience in receiving PLN while the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) "reviews" each issue of PLN, usually for 2-3 months, before delivering them. PLN reader Alex Montoya has informed us that class counsel in Guajardo v. Estelle is currently negotiating with the TDCJ over the timely delivery of publications and other mail. The original ruling in Guajardo, as well as TDCJ mail policy, require the TDCJ to deliver all mail within 3 days or provide notice of censorship. Since PLN began publishing in 1990 we have experienced problems with the TDCJ. Our first 18 issues were banned as not "being from the publisher." After one of our readers filed suit that was resolved and PLN reaches TDCJ readers, but only after long delays. I have written to class counsel in the case about this problem and how it affects PLN. According to Alex, they are willing to let the TDCJ "review" publications for up to 14 days before they must deliver it or censor it. In the other 49 states they seem to manage to do this in a day or two after mail arrives. Texas PLN subscribers who are concerned about the mail delays and censorship should contact class counsel in Guajardo: John DeGeeter, Vinson & Elkins, 2300 First City Tower, 1001 Fanin St. Houston, TX 77002-6760.

I would like to remind readers that you can sponsor trial subscriptions for members of the media, judiciary, legislatures, etc., at $7.50 for six months or $15 for twelve months. By doing this we can expand PLN's impact. CA prisoner Theresa Torricellas gets the red star award for getting a three issue trial subscription of PLN for every federal judge and magistrate in California and the ninth circuit, about 140 in all. She has also sent PLN to California media outlets and legislators who, as a result, have subscribed. In Washington, Works in Progress, the Thurston county Rainbow Coalition, gets 150 copies each month which they then distribute to each state legislator. To be better known and have a bigger impact we rely on support from you, our readers. On a local and state level you are the ones who know who would likely benefit from a PLN trial subscription, we don't. We can complain all we want that people in media, legislatures, etc., "don't know what's really going on" or "how it really is." Well, PLN tells it like it is and says what's going on. So here's your chance to do your part and bring light to the unenlightened.

We also need more subscribers of all types, especially prisoners and friends and families (part of the reason why media outreach is important is to let folks know we exist). I look at PLN's mailing list and at joints with 2,000 or more prisoners we will have two subscribers. Once more, we need your help to let folks know about PLN, what we do and why they should subscribe. We can send you PLN flyers which you can copy, distribute or post in the law library, on bulletin boards, etc, just write and ask for some. If your captors will allow it, we can send you a bundle of 20+ PLNs to pass along to potential subscribers. To get a bundle of PLNs send us $6 (stamps are fine) and a mailing label and we'll send it to you. For outside folks doing events, book tables, protests, etc., you too should order up some bundles of PLN to distribute. The $6 helps us offset the printing and postage expenses.

Lastly, yes, even PLN makes mistakes. In the February, 1997, News in Brief column I wrote about Walla Walla, WA prisoner John Lamb's escape attempt and quoted prison spokeswoman Mary Christianson as saying "this was the first serious escape attempt at the prison." It should have read, ' the prison, in the last ten years." In June we will report on Lamb's successful control unit escape.

Please share this issue of PLN with others and encourage them to subscribe. Feel free to write with suggestions and comments on how we can improve PLN. When you get a renewal notice from PLN please consider taking us up on our offer to renew for two years so we can send you a free copy of "How Good Was Your Lawyer" if you subscribe or renew for two years. It's a great deal for you and good for PLN because it halves the work our staff person has to do in terms of sending notices, entering the information, etc. You also don't risk missing any issues of PLN due to a late renewal.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login