With this issue of PLN we are pleased to announced that PLN's website is now fully operational and contains all back issues of PLN in both a PDF format (exactly as published) as well as in a fully searchable database. It also contains the full text of all court rulings we have reported as well as a brief bank of pleadings, settlements and much more. PLN subscribers will soon be receiving a special charter subscription offer to the website. PLN's website is the foremost prison litigation and news source online in the world. At this point no other website offers the quality or quantity of prison and jail related information that PLN does.
All articles and cases on the website are formatted for easy printing to enable friends and family members of prisoners to download, copy and mail the information to prisoners. For those prisoners who lack the outside resources to access PLN's website, we hope to be able to provide such a service in the next year or two, depending on PLN's resources. Articles and cases can be searched by any one of more than 500 specific topics, by state, by court, by outcome, year, issue published and much more.
The people who have helped make PLN's website possible are our webmaster, Carlos Batista, whose mastery of technology has made the website a reality; Peter Schmidt, editor of Punch and Jurists, whose federal criminal law website, www.fedcrimlaw.com, and tireless advocacy on behalf of criminal defendants is inspirational and provides an example of what can be accomplished; Dan Axtell, a PLN board member whose advice and experience with data bases and data conversions saved a lot of time and effort; Chris St. Pierre who has been responsible for uploading the text of court cases online and last but not least, Samual Schwartzkopf and Sam Phillips who had the thankless, but vital, task of actually uploading over 5,000 PLN articles into our online database where they can be searched and used.
In addition to new issues of PLN we will be continuously adding new materials and information to PLN's website. It also has a forum, chat room, guest book and extensive links making it a vital resource. While PLN does charge a modest subscription fee to access some portions of the site and its contents, users who are not website subscribers can search for free and need to subscribe only if we have the information they are seeking. By placing over 15 years of content online we are providing lawyers, researchers, students, academics, advocates and prisoners with the most comprehensive source of prison and jail news and litigation anywhere in a useable, searchable format. We welcome feedback and comments from our readers on the site and its contents.
The month of July, 2005 was a mixed one on the PLN litigation front. We won a resounding victory in Prison Legal News v. Washington DOC in the Washington supreme court where the court held the Washington Department of Corrections had wrongfully withheld documents I had sought in 2000 over medical neglect and misconduct by its employees. That same month U.S. district court judge John Moore in Jacksonville, Florida dismissed PLN's lawsuit, PLN v. Crosby, over the censorship of PLN by the Florida DOC over PLN's ad content by holding the case was moot since the DOC had amended its rules to state publications would not be censored due to ad content. He also dismissed PLN's challenge to a Florida DOC rule prohibiting payment to prisoner writers. PLN is appealing that decision to the 11th circuit. On August 3, 2005, PLN settled a censorship suit, PLN v. Lehman, with the Washington DOC. Upcoming issues of PLN will have detailed articles on these cases. Unfortunately, censorship and public records litigation consumes a significant amount of PLN's limited resources.
Lastly, on a personal note, I am pleased and honored to report that the Petra Foundation, based on New York, has selected me for a Fellowship based on my advocacy and activism over the past 17 years on behalf of prisoners. The Petra Foundation, an all volunteer non profit founded to honor the memory of Petra Shattuck, provides a network and support for those struggling against oppression around the country. I am humbled by the previous 18 years of Petra Fellows who came before me and who join me this year as Petra Fellows. More information about the Petra Foundation can be found on their website at:
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