When the PLRA was enacted in April, 1996, it was clear it would have an immediate and dramatic impact on prison litigation. By the late summer and early fall of 1996 the first PLRA cases were being decided by the courts. We decided to start a PLRA News section in order to bring readers news of PLRA developments as quickly as possible.
To date, the biggest changes made by the PLRA, the consent decree termination provisions and the filing fee requirements for indigent prisoners, have been upheld by the circuit courts. As the PLRA gradually becomes settled law we are no longer seeing that many court rulings that deal solely with PLRA issues. Instead, court opinions may touch on procedural issues, PLRA topics as well as the merits of the case. Just like most court rulings do. From now on PLRA cases will be spread throughout each issue of PLN along with the other news and law articles.
PLN 's long suffering office slave, Fred, has complained about the lengthy letters he receives that ask for legal advice or simply give "the story of my life." Fred lacks the time to deal with these letters. As he says "I'm not a lawyer." If you write to PLN about anything related to your subscription keep it brief and to the point. Try to include your PLN subscription number when you write as it speeds things up when Fred renews a subscription, changes the address, etc. Each subscriber's PLN number appears as a four or five digit number on the top row of your mailing label. An example is: "1345*****04/99*****." In this example, 1345 is the reader's subscription number, while 04/99 is the issue the label was attached to, i.e., April, 1999. Including your subscription number makes it a lot easier and faster for Fred to answer any subscription related questions. Lengthy letters will go into the "long letter" file where they will sit until PLN can afford to hire another staff person. Which may be a while. So keep letters brief and to the point.
In the April, 1999, issue of PLN we reported that PLN had sued the Michigan Department of Corrections for banning The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry. In early April the suit was settled with the MI DOC agreeing to remove the book from its list of banned publications which will allow Michigan prisoners to order and receive the book from PLN , Common Courage Press and other vendors.
Next month's issue of PLN will report the full details of the settlement. As part of the settlement the MI DOC is required to post a notice in all its prisons informing Michigan prisoners that the suit was settled and the book is no longer banned and can be purchased from PLN or Common Courage Press. If you are a Michigan prisoner and this notice has not been posted in your prison by the time you get this issue of PLN please let us know. We would like to thank Dan Manville for representing PLN , Common Courage and Michigan prisoners in this lawsuit.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe. We still need to boost our circulation!
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