On February 1, 2005, the Ninth Circuit US court of appeals upheld the injunctions in Prison Legal News v. Lehman, 272 F. Supp.2d 1151 (WD WA 2003) which require that the Washington Department of Corrections deliver PLN's subscription renewal letters, book and subscription flyers and similar mailings to its prisoners regardless of the postage rate at which they are sent. The court held the Washington DOC's ban on catalogs" was unconstitutional. We will report the full details of the ruling in next month's issue of PLN.
On January 31, 2005, we concluded our matching grant fundraiser and the results were very disappointing. An anonymous donor had agreed to match all donations made to PLN up to $25,000.00. Unfortunately, PLN subscribers only donated $8,371.05 for which PLN will receive $13,010.87 in matching grant funds, which means we did not qualify for almost half of the potential funds available.
The last time PLN raised its subscription rates was in 1999 and in the meantime we have gone from 32 pages in size to our current 48 pages. In addition to bringing readers more news and information than ever before, at the same price, we have faced, and dealt with, rising postage and printing costs.
The cost of subscriptions and PLN's advertising revenue do not cover PLN's operating costs. The difference has always been made up by reader donations, especially during our end of year fund raiser. PLN receives little in the way of grant money and has historically had to rely on its readers for funding support because prisoner advocacy tends to be very unpopular with foundation funders.
One of our long time goals has been to keep PLN affordable so that people, especially prisoners, are not excluded from our news and information by price. When we started in 1990, and were ten pages long, a yearly subscription was $10. Considering our size has grown by almost 500% since then, our current rates are very low indeed. We may have to consider raising our subscription rates if this trend continues.
That said, I would like to thank everyone who did donate to the matching grant fundraiser. Especially the prisoners who sacrificed to do so. The donor who made the matching grant fundraiser possible also gets a deep-felt thank you. (So does Microsoft for making it all possible.)
This May will mark PLN's fifteenth anniversary of publishing and our 180th issue. We are planning a special issue to mark the occasion. This will make PLN the longest published independent, prisoner rights magazine whose content is mostly produced by prisoners and ex prisoners in American history.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please let others know about us and encourage them to subscribe.
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