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From the Editor

Welcome to another issue of PLN. With our June, 2004, issue we reached a milestone with our highest circulation yet of 4,006 subscribers on our mailing list. The past year has seen an ongoing effort by PLN to boost our circulation through inexpensive means of reaching new people who may be interested in our message and the information we provide.

This has included sending copies of PLN to various Books to Prisoners programs around the country for them to distribute to those who contact them seeking legal information. We have also been able to send bundles of PLN to prison law libraries in various parts of the country as well as distributing PLN at meetings and gatherings of activists and other people concerned about prison reform.

Coupled with our new size of 48 pages, we are now bringing more detention facility news and information to more people than ever before. As a quick sampling of this issue shows, no other publication brings the focus and depth of coverage to prison and jail issues that PLN does. I am grateful to those readers who continue to send us news clippings and other information about the criminal justice system as it frequently results in news stories for us to cover. We especially appreciate news about verdicts and settlements since these are rarely reported in other venues and readers consistently say the information is extremely useful.

In addition to our growth as a magazine, PLN's litigation asserting its rights as a publisher to communicate with prisoners and to conduct investigations of government wrongdoing also continues.

PLN currently an appeal pending in the Ninth circuit court of appeals where the state of Washington has appealed three injunctions entered against it for refusing to deliver PLN's bulk mail, subscription renewal letters and subscription information and the denial of due process when such mail was censored. The case is PLN v. Lehman. In the Tenth Circuit, PLN has appealed a decision where the district court upheld a Kansas DOC policy requiring that prisoners purchase books and publications from their prison trust accounts and also imposing a $30 monthly limit on what they can spend for such items, and denying certain prisoners access to all publications sent via the mail and not providing due process when such mail is censored. That case is PLN v. Simmons.

The Washington state supreme court in July, 2004, accepted review in PLN v. Washington DOC, a Public Disclosure Act case where I had sought records revealing how many DOC medical staff were practicing with no, limited or suspended licenses and how many staff members had been disciplined for medical neglect or misconduct. The DOC eventually disclosed some 1,600 pages of heavily redacted documents but refused to reveal the identities of the disciplined staff, despite their being responsible for at least two needless deaths and 8 serious injuries, claiming such secrecy is necessary for "effective law enforcement." PLN filed suit in Thurston county superior court and lost at the trial and appeals court levels in unpublished opinions. The grant of review by the state supreme court is highly significant.

PLN still has cases pending in the federal district courts in Colorado, Florida and Utah. In Colorado PLN is challenging the Bureau of Prisons ban on all publications that mention or refer to prisoners and prisons at its ADX "super max" facility in Florence. In Florida, PLN is challenging the state prison system's ban on PLN due to its discount phone service ads (since the suit was filed the Florida DOC has resumed delivery of PLN), the denial of due process when publications are censored and the Florida DOC's disciplinary rule that punishes prisoners who receive payment for writing articles. PLN contributing writer David Reutter has been punished under this rule. In Utah, PLN is challenging a jail and DOC on non profit standard rate mail. The Utah DOC changed its policy shortly after we filed suit.

PLN is also in the process of investigating several other censorship issues in other parts of the country where prisoners are not being allowed to receive PLN.

All of this requires staff time and resources which are in short supply. PLN remains committed to the values of free speech and government accountability and openness. If you support these values, please feel free to send a donation to help us continue fighting these important struggles as well as expanding and improving the quality of the magazine. Even small donations help. Send what you can now to support our efforts. Feel free to let others know about PLN and encourage them to subscribe.

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