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From the Editor

Welcome to the first issue of 2005. The year is starting pretty much the way it ended in terms of political progress for prisoners' rights: not very good at all. The ongoing, simmering outrage of the abuse of Iraqi and Afghan prisoners by the US military in those countries and in Cuba has helped raise awareness about the abuses inflicted on US prisoners. Both in PLN and in other media we have strived to make this connection and it seems to be sinking home. As the cover story of last month's issue noted, all the high ranking commanders who either ordered the torture and abuse of foreign prisoners, or who directly oversaw it, remain employed and in most cases have been promoted since the torture and murders became public knowledge. Some of the low ranking torturers and killers have been given show trials to deflect blame from their superiors.

PLN has consistently pointed out that the treatment meted out to foreign prisoners is pretty much what US prisoners have been experiencing for decades. As this issue, and every issue of PLN reports, corruption, brutality and sadism are not restricted to the armed forces or to foreign prisons. They occur all too often right here in US. The problem is the inability to communicate this reality to too many Americans at once. The biggest obstacle PLN has faced over the past 15 years of publishing has been under funding. PLN is solely reader supported and relies almost entirely on donations from its readers and advertising income to continue publishing.

If you have not already donated, our $25,000.00 matching grant fundraiser ends on January 31, 2005. A PLN supporter and donor has agreed to match all donations made to PLN dollar for dollar, two dollars for each dollar donated if made by a prisoner, up to a grand total of $25,000.00. This is a significant sum for PLN and would greatly help us bring our staffing levels to the level we need to keep up with the work that PLN requires. The donation can be from any source, including foundations. As of December 31 st , PLN has raised $7,119.43 and our matching grant total is now: $10,110.01. This is not enough! If we are to meet our matching grant total we need another $14,889.99 by the 31 st of January. If you have not yet donated please do so now! Every penny helps support PLN and the work we do: publishing the best prisoner and human rights magazine in the United States, providing the most in depth coverage of detention facility litigation and news, how to columns for pro se litigants and much more. Please don't let us have to turn down any portion of the matching grant we would otherwise qualify for due to insufficient donations from our readers. If every PLN subscriber donated just $6.00 we would get the full matching grant!

We also continue to have censorship problems around the country. If you are a prisoner subscriber and your issue of PLN is censored by prison or jail officials, please notify PLN as soon as possible and send us a copy of any censorship notices you may have received because all too often PLN is never notified when the magazine is censored. Prisoners should exhaust whatever administrative remedies they have available and again, send PLN a copy of the documents this process generates. PLN aggressively challenges censorship of our magazine and book mailings but we need to know if we are being censored before we can do much about it.

As this issue goes to press, on December 22, 2004, the Tenth Circuit court of appeals issued a ruling reversing the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by PLN against the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) over their ban on gift subscriptions and dollar limit on publication purchases as well as the total lack of notice to publishers when publications are censored. The case is Prison Legal News v. Simmons and we will report the case in detail in next month's issue of PLN . This is yet another case where PLN has successfully vindicated the rights of both prisoners and publishers who wish to communicate with them. Your ongoing financial support makes these important first Amendment battles possible. PLN has no litigation budget. Our lawyers represent PLN on a contingency basis, but we still need the staff resources to develop the facts our lawyers need to win in court. Your donations help support us on this. Sadly, PLN is the only publisher in the United States that consistently fights, and wins, these free speech battles on behalf of prisoners and publishers.

Likewise, it is equally important that subscribers immediately notify us of any changes of address when they move or are transferred. The Post Office does not forward PLN. It is returned to us at an additional charge of 70 cents per issue. We do our part to ensure every subscriber receives their issue, subscribers need to keep us updated on their location so we can actually get the magazine to them!

We hope this coming year, and PLN's upcoming 15 th anniversary issue, will mark significant progress in the struggle for justice and human rights for everyone, even American prisoners. Enjoy this issue of PLN and encourage others to subscribe.

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