This issue of PLN contains a summary of the report prepared by investigators looking into a rash of deaths in Vermont's tiny prison system. The report has been posted on PLN's website. After many years off reading similar reports I was surprised that the investigators, a private attorney in Vermont and a former attorney general from neighboring New Hampshire, stated clearly and unequivocally that Jim was retaliated against by prison officials and should not have been held in segregation and would not have been but for his activities as a jailhouse lawyer and activist. David Reutter, the PLN writer who reviewed the report was also a friend of Jim's.
The memorial was held at 7 AM on the beach where Jim had worked as a lifeguard in his youth. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and the sea was calm with very low waves. About 30 people gathered for the event. This included Jim's surviving family members, his mother Claire Quigley and sister Kelly; friends of Jim,s and his family and members of Vermont's prison activist community, including Barry Kade, Doug and Andrea Braasch and Laura Ziegler, members of the Alliance for Prison Justice in Vermont.
The eulogy was given by Joe Rush, the former head of Jim's life guard unit in Atlantic City. He recalled Jim's sense of humor, warmth and helpful nature. Claire and Kelly also spoke. Barry Kade noted he was probably the last of Jim's many friends to see him alive. I spoke briefly about Jim's many contributions to PLN over the years as well as his role as an activist for prisoner rights and the impact this had both nationally and locally in Florida and Vermont. Statements sent by Vermont lawyer Jan Peter Dembinski, and Sid Kleiner, president of the Beth Tikvah Jewish Prisoner Outreach and Florida prisoners A.J. Cotton, Mark Osterback, John Park and Doug Gorman were also read and copies of their statements provided to memorial guests.
Jim's ashes were released into the Atlantic Ocean that morning from a wooden life guard boat that Jim had used many decades before. In death as in life, Jim was quiet, powerful and moving. And he continues to have an impact on prisoners' struggle. We will report further developments in the litigation and legislation resulting from his untimely death.
On September 15, 2004, we are also kicking off PLN's fundraiser event. An anonymous donor has agreed to provide a matching grant of up to $25,000 for all funds donated to PLN by individuals and prisoners. Donations by non prisoners will be matched on a dollar by dollar basis; donations by prisoners will be matched on a $2 for every dollar donated out of recognition of the fact that prisoners have a harder time making donations than non prisoners do. Each month we will announce or progress between September 15 and January 15, 2005, in meeting the $25,000 goal. If you can afford to make a donation, however small, please do so. Stamps and embossed envelopes are fine.
All donations to PLN are tax deductible and every penny donated goes towards PLN's publication and operation, this includes the longest publishing, independent magazine focused on the human rights of American prisoners and detainees in U.S. history as well as our litigation and advocacy on behalf of the free speech rights of prisoners and publishers alike.
If every PLN subscriber donates just $6 we will meet our $25,000 goal. Your support is needed now more than ever.
With the holiday season approaching and the need for gifts arising, please consider either a PLN gift subscription or one of the many books distributed by PLN as the perfect gift for your friends and loved ones. A PLN subscription means that twelve times a year the recipient will receive first class, top notch reporting on prison and jail news from around the world. The many books PLN distributes provide a unique, critical insight into the history and workings of the American system of mass imprisonment as well as the self help tools prisoners need and can use to both better themselves and improve their chances of extricating themselves from the grasp of the prison system. PLN relies on you, our readers for support. If you think human rights in the United States is an ideal worth supporting, please support PLN.
This month's cover story on the American prison officials who were selected to set up Iraq's prison system duly notes their lengthy track record killing and torturing American prisoners before inflicting their expertise on hapless Iraqi prisoners. In the age of global imperialism, even mass imprisonment is an American value being exported and imposed on an unwilling world. While PLN extensively reports on human rights abuses of American prisoners, we need your help to let more people know about this vital topic.
PLN has more than 4,000 subscribers and at least 8 times that many readers of each issue. Our website, www.prisonlegalnews.org, receives over 80,000 visitors each month that read the news and back issues of PLN that we have posted on line. But we have to do better than this.
With over 2.1 million Americans locked up, which represents 1 out of every 75 men, millions more cycling through jails each year, the public health crisis represented by untreated illnesses among prisoners, the criminalization of poverty and mental illness, the disenfranchisement of former prisoners and the inherent injustice and abuse that accompanies mass imprisonment, we need to be reaching many more people. To do this we need your financial support. A donation to PLN will help further our work, work which no one else is doing. Please let others know about PLN and encourage them to subscribe and donate as well.
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