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

From the Editor

This month's cover story examines the effects of mass imprisonment on the children of prisoners. All too often it is forgotten that prisoners have family members and the impact of penal policies on these families is largely ignored. Just as "family values" has served as a cover for a war on women and children, "tough on crime" policies, naked greed and indifference have served as a means to further alienate and decimate the family and community structures of prisoners. This ranges from the policy of locating prisons in rural areas far from the homes most prisoners come from, to transfer policies of keeping prisoners far from their homes even if there are nearby prisons, to outrageous phone rates for those prisoners who do want to stay in touch with their families once they are moved to faraway prisons (or transferred to another state entirely) and the steady cutback of visiting times and harshening of the few visits that do take place. In future issues of PLN we hope to cover these issues at greater length.

PLN 's next book project, Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor is steadily moving to completion, and if all goes well will be in bookstores by the end of the year. In this book we explore the class nature of the American criminal justice system and how two million people actually wound up in prison and what's happening once we got to prison. I'm very enthused about the project and I think the book will be a valuable contribution to educating the public about the criminal justice system as it exists.

As we reported in last month's issue, PLN 's matching grant fundraiser was a success as we raised the $15,000 matching grant which was our goal. There was a flurry of last minute donations in March, just before the deadline, that helped us meet our goal and actually put us a little bit over our goal. We would like to thank everyone who donated, it is only through your support that we are able to continue publishing and doing the work that we do. We hope supporters will continue to donate even without the matching grant fundraiser, since we rely on reader support to continue publishing.

After 12 years of existence PLN doesn't have a logo. We would like to have a logo for both our masthead and stationary. I know that a great many PLN readers are very talented artists. We've decided to hold a contest to determine what kind of a logo PLN gets. The rules are simple: send in a drawing of what you think would be a good logo for PLN . The winner gets a free three year subscription to PLN and we will announce the winner and the logo in the November, 2002, issue of PLN . The contest ends on September 1, 2002. Send your contest entry to PLN , addressed "Logo Contest."

For most of the past year Thomas Sellman has been doing the layout for PLN and fact checking our articles as well as assisting us with research and other editorial tasks. Unfortunately, Thomas can no longer assist PLN on these matters due to the press of being a second year law student busy studying to earn his law degree. We will miss Thomas and the invaluable help he has offered in the past. For any readers who live in the Puget Sound region in Washington, PLN has a Seattle office and can always use volunteers for a variety of tasks related to the production of PLN. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact PLN's office at the phone or e-mail listed on page 2. We are also in need of someone with graphic design experience to assist in the creation of various promotional materials. If you have graphic design experience and would be interested in helping PLN please contact our Seattle office.

One of the saddest duties I have as PLN 's editor is reporting on the deaths of our friends and supporters. After 12 years of publishing we have lost a number of both to old age, illness and other things. I was tremendously saddened to learn of the death in late 2001 of the reverend Seiichi Michael Yasutake at the age of 81. Mike, as he was known to friends, was a true giant among activists, having dedicated his entire life to the struggle for justice and human rights for everyone. Born in Seattle in 1920, Mike and his family were interned in the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho between 1941 and 1943. Released from the camp in 1943 he went to the University of Cincinnati where he was expelled for refusing to take a loyalty oath to the U.S., noting that "7,000 people were sent out of the United States to Japan because they answered the loyalty oath wrong."

Mike was ordained as an Episcopal minister in 1950. He would later organize for civil rights in Illinois and Mississippi and at one point had his house blown up for his efforts. He first began his support of prisoners during the Vietnam war by visiting imprisoned draft resisters and generating support for them around the country. He was also a tireless advocate of independence for Puerto Rico. Mike was also the executive director of the Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Project in Evanston, Illinois, sponsored by the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA. In that capacity he spent the last two decades visiting political prisoners around the country and advocating on their behalf.

Mike was an early PLN supporter. He first visited me in the prison at Monroe in the mid 1990's. He would visit me on a regular basis after that whenever he was in the Seattle area to visit relatives. His warmth, compassion, intelligence and commitment to the struggle for justice were inspiring to me, especially since Mike was at an age when many people have long since retired from activist pursuits. On one of his visits Mike told me he had just gotten a new black belt in Kendo, a form of Japanese fencing. All I could think was "I hope I'm half as active as he is when I'm his age!"

Mike tirelessly advocated on behalf of political prisoners as well as for the human rights of all prisoners, organizing and leading demonstrations against control unit prisons across the country long before the issue was recognized as the problem it is. He was active in many other progressive and anti imperialist causes. His courage and commitment touched and affected many lives over the years, including my own. Mike will be sorely missed and his passing is a great loss to everyone who supports human rights and freedom. Everyone at PLN offers their condolences to Mike's children, grandchildren and other relatives. Mike set an example most of us will be hard pressed to follow.

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