As this issue of PLN reports, we are also engaged in public records litigation against the federal government, private prison companies and state prison systems designed to shed some light on prison operations and bring exposure and accountability to a part of the government that is used to having neither. All of this takes scarce staff time and money. If you believe in an independent prison media this is your chance to support it. Lip service doesn't pay the bills. Unlike large organizations with huge budgets, every penny donated to PLN has a measurable impact and goes directly to supporting our work on a national basis. No donation is too large or too small to help.
On January 8, 2006, postage rates increased. Don't know what to do with those 37 cent stamps? Donate them to PLN. We can always use stamps as we send out hundreds of pieces of mail each week.
We also sent readers a survey to get feedback on what you think of our content and also changes to future in print coverage. Please return the surveys and we will report the results in a future issue.
PLN's website continues to grow and expand. In addition to all 188 back issues of PLN, it includes the full case text of all court decisions we have reported, an additional 1,300 case summaries and cases we have not reported in print, a brief bank of pleadings, lawsuits, verdicts and settlements available nowhere else and an attorney referral directory and huge links section. We add new material pretty much every day and have the most comprehensive prison litigation and news site in the world. We also started PLN's list serv where people can sign up for free and receive daily news bulletins and court rulings on prison and jail litigation and events. Did I mention the list serv was free?
The website has been designed so that all of its contents can be easily printed and sent to prisoners by supporters outside of prison. It has been a huge undertaking but the results are well worth the effort. Check it out at www.prisonlegalnews.org.
On December 8, 2005, long time PLN subscriber Richard Williams, 58, died in a federal prison in North Carolina. Richard had spent over 20 years in prison as a prisoner of war who had dedicated his life to the struggle for justice and liberation. Richard was convicted, as a member of the United Freedom Front, also known as the Ohio 7, of assorted armed actions against military and corporate targets that had supported apartheid in South Africa and US imperialism in Central America in the 1980's.
After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Richard was among many political prisoners and prisoners of war held in US prisons who were arbitrarily placed in a control unit and abused despite not being linked or supportive of the Islamic Fundamentalism long supported by the US government. While in segregation Richard's health significantly deteriorated, and included at least one mild heart attack. [See the February, 2002, issue of PLN for more details.] Ultimately Richard died from untreated hepatitis C.
While a lot of media attention was focused on the state murder of Stanley Williams in California the same month, Richard Williams was just as surely killed by the government as Stanley was with medical neglect rather than lethal injection being the means of execution. Unfortunately, Richard's death received virtually no media attention and no celebrities pleaded for his life. Unlike Stanley, Richard had dedicated his adult life to struggling for a just society and challenging the perpetrators of oppression. And he was not repentant about having done so. Richard will be sorely missed by his friends, comrades and family members. Oppressed people everywhere have lost a comrade.
Richard is one of some 100 or so political prisoners and prisoners of war being held in American prisons from leftist and nationalist struggles. Many of these prisoners have been imprisoned for more than 3 decades, making them among the longest held political prisoners in the world. This issue of PLN contains a blurb for the Certain Days calendar which is a project of US political prisoners and their supporters. The calendar is great and a good addition to any cell, home or office wall.
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