From The Editor
by Paul Wright
The month of September will be the last month that Hans Sherrer, PLN's circulation manager will be with us. After several years working for PLN Hans is moving on to other activities. As PLN's circulation manager, Hans oversaw our database and ensured changes were made in a timely manner and that people received their issues. He also produced PLN's subscription and book flyers, handled our outreach efforts with Books to Prisoners programs around the country and otherwise helped expand PLN's circulation to our current all time high of more than 4,000 subscribers. Hans also updated and created PLN's website, at www.prisonlegalnews.org.
In addition to his work with PLN, Hans is also one of the nation's leading experts on wrongful convictions and his writings on the subject have appeared in law review journals and Justice Denied, as well as PLN. Hans will be sorely missed and we wish him luck with his future endeavors.
PLN's annual fundraiser started on September 15, and this issue has our annual fundraising letter in it. We are including it in the issue rather than sending it to readers in a separate mailing to further cut down on our costs and expenses. Since this is a matching grant fundraiser, every dollar donated by non-prisoners will be matched dollar for dollar, while every dollar donated by prisoners will be matched at the rate of two dollars. PLN relies on your support to continue publishing and doing the work we do on behalf of those detained in prisons and jails around the country. If you have not yet donated, please do so.
We are also starting our subscription madness campaign where readers can buy gift subscriptions for friends, relatives, policy and opinion makers, libraries, community groups and anyone else whom you believe would benefit from our news and analysis. Take advantage of this opportunity to both help expand PLN's circulation and strengthen the impact we have.
I would like to thank the readers who send us news and clippings. It is extremely useful to have this news sent to us which allows me to further research many of the items. Even in the age of computer databases, most prison news is still reported as a local news story and rarely makes it out of the community newspapers in which it is reported. Please continue sending us your news items, especially verdicts and settlements and winning unpublished court rulings, all of which are rarely published anywhere else.
The next month will be an important one for PLN litigation and our efforts fighting for the free speech rights of prisoners and publishers. On October 6, 2004, the 10th circuit court of appeals will hear oral argument in PLN v. Simmons, our challenge to the Kansas Department of Corrections ban on gift subscriptions and denial of due process to publishers whose materials are censored.
On October 21, 2004, the Washington state supreme court will hear oral argument in PLN v. Washington DOC, a public records case in which PLN is seeking records showing the discipline of DOC medical staff for medical neglect and misconduct, the partial records disclosed as a result of the litigation to date shows that at least two Washington prisoners have died as a result of this negligent misconduct.
On November 1, 2004, the Ninth Circuit court of appeals will hear cross appeals in PLN v. Lehman where PLN successfully challenged the Washington DOC's ban on subscription mail sent via standard rate and the ban on our subscription and book ordering information and the denial of due process when our materials were censored.
All three cases are very important on these issues and illustrate the vital work PLN does just on free speech and government accountability issues alone. You can help support PLN if you believe in an independent media.
As the 2004 election approaches, this issue of PLN has a lot of stories on the ongoing disenfranchisement of the 2 million prisoners in the US and the many millions of former prisoners around the country and efforts being made to combat that. But, disenfranchisement is half the battle, the other half is finding candidates willing to countenance serious criminal justice reform and changes to the current policies of mass imprisonment.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe!
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