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From the Editor

Paul Wright

Recent issues of PLN have reported on criminal justice news in Texas and the response from Republican presidential candidate, George Bush Jr., to these events. PLN has reported on Bush's supervision of the Texas plantation-like prison system and death machine to duly point out the fact that, in the real world, a compassionate conservative is the same as a friendly fascist.

By no means should PLN's coverage be construed as a backhanded endorsement for Al Gore. PLN's nonprofit status does not allow us to endorse candidates for political office anyway. While commentators have long compared the United State's two party system as two empty bottles with different labels, this is proven even more so with regards to criminal justice issues. For prisoners at least, the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the difference between being beat to death with a 2' x 4' and being beat to death with a baseball bat.

While everyone remembers the infamous "Willie Horton" television ads used by George Bush Sr. in the 1988 presidential campaign, Al Gore actually first raised the Willie Horton matter in his own presidential primary campaign against Michael Dukakis. Al Gore's positions on criminal justice issues are indistinguishable from Bush's. As a practical matter, the Clinton-Gore administration is the worst thing that has happened to American prisoners in living memory. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the Prison Litigation Reform Act and the 1994 crime bill, all covered in PLN at the time, are monuments to the repression and social cleansing advocated across the mainstream political spectrum. In 1992 PLN ran side by side comparisons of Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr., to illustrate their interchangeability. At this point, Gore and Bush Jr. have well known public records on criminal justice issues that promise more of the same: more police, more prisons, longer sentences, more executions, and a wider, thinner net of police power.

Positive change will come about when the current criminal justice policies begin to meet active resistance from both the prisoners and the communities most impacted by them. Until then, the best we can expect is, to paraphrase Frank "Big Black" Smith, "to be driven like beasts."

This issue of PLN contains a review of a Bureau of Prisons "after action report" concerning the wave of uprisings that swept federal prisons in 1995 after congress refused to equalize the dramatic disparities between crack and powder cocaine sentences. PLN obtained the report through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). At the time of the uprisings the BOP claimed it had no idea why prisoners were rebelling. That is shown to be patently untrue. To date, PLN is the only media outlet to report on the BOP's assessment and how widespread the uprisings were.

PLN's matching grant fundraiser continues. So far we have raised and received matching grant funds of $8,642. In order to receive the full matching grant of $15,000 PLN must receive a similar amount in donations from PLN supporters by January 15, 2001. If you have not donated yet, please do so. I would like to thank everyone who has donated so far.

A federal judge in Nevada recently granted a Preliminary Injunction motion ordering Nevada prison officials to deliver PLN to Nevada prisoners until the underlying lawsuit is resolved. As noted in this issue, the Wisconsin DOC has capitulated in its censorship of PLN. In the meantime, PLN faces sporadic censorship in other parts of the country.

PLN urgently requires financial support in order to hire a much needed second staff person. While PLN aggressively challenges censorship around the country, laying the groundwork for successful litigation is time consuming work that takes up scarce staff time which PLN can ill afford to spare: If you can afford to donate money to PLN please do so.

Readers can also help PLN by encouraging others to subscribe and helping us expand our advertising base. If you know of any businesses who do business with prisoners on a regular basis and who want to reach a national audience of prisoners, lawyers and citizens concerned about criminal justice issues, have them contact PLN for advertising information or send PLN their contact information and we will send them an advertising packet. Building up PLN's advertiser base is another means of helping ensure PLN's long term survival.

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