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From the Editor

Welcome to the eighth anniversary issue of PLN . This issue marks eight continuous years of monthly publishing, and in August we'll publish our 100th issue. This is an enormous accomplishment when one considers that the bulk of prison and alternative publications measure their existence in single digits as far as published issues go. Our evolution has been one of steady growth, from when we first started in May, 1990, as a hand typed, 10 page Xeroxed newsletter sent to 75 people. Some things haven't changed, like the ongoing censorship struggles around the country, which we've generally won.

While most readers are familiar with Dan and myself as the editors, PLN wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the dedicated support and assistance provided by a core group of volunteers, not just now, but over the past eight years. PLN is and has been very much of a collective enterprise. We would like to thank Fred, Rollin, Sandy, Allan, Jimmy, Ellen, Matt, Curtis, Dan A and Dan T, Daniel, Wes, George and all the other people that have volunteered their time and services to PLN . We would like to thank the organizations that have supported PLN , these include the ACLU of Washington, the Solidago Foundation, the Open Society Institute and the Southern Poverty Law Center. We owe our thanks to all the writers that have contributed articles to PLN and diversified our voice. Most of all, we would like to thank our readers because without your continued support we wouldn't have been able to keep publishing.

When Ed Mead and I started PLN in 1990 we saw a need for prisoners to have a voice and a means to stay informed on prison struggle. Since then a lot has happened: prison conditions have worsened; prison populations and crowding have increased; courts and legislatures have retreated from the concept of prisoner rights; laws have become more draconian and prisoner rights have been steadily eroded. PLN has been here to chronicle this process, providing news and analysis frequently shut out of the corporate media and reporting on prison struggle at all levels. Today PLN is, unfortunately, the only nationally circulated, prisoner produced magazine in the U.S. if not the world, with readers in all 50 states and about two dozen countries.

With the publication of "The Celling of America" and the increased vitality of PLN 's website on the internet we hope to reach still more people with our message that criminal justice policy in the U.S. is seriously flawed and human and civil rights in the U.S. have been, and are being, sacrificed on the altar of political expedience and social control of the poor. Hopefully progressive change will result. In any case, we're doing our part. As usual PLN is limping along financially, if you can afford it, please send a donation. You should encourage others to subscribe and consider buying gift subscriptions for friends and family members.

To commemorate May Day this issue focuses on the topic of prison slave labor. One reason PLN focuses on slave labor is because this is where the interests of prisoners and working people intersect. It clearly exposes how the jobs of free working class people are shipped to prison for the enrichment of business owners and corporations eager to profit from incarceration policies. The last two years have seen increased attention paid to this topic. PLN 's articles on slave labor have received a pretty wide distribution and seem to be having some impact as more and more people begin to question the supposed benefits of prison slave labor. On May Day it's appropriate to remember how free workers obtained their goal of the time: the eight hour work day and the minimum wage. It wasn't through the courts but through active struggle, often against brutal suppression by bosses and the government that these goals were achieved. Enjoy this issue of PLN and share it with others.

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