The cover story of this issue about the organizing efforts of design professionals to stop their colleagues from designing and building more prisons is an important example of the organizing that needs to be taking place at all levels to combat the use of mass imprisonment in the United States. Professionals can and should be held to a higher standard, both due to their education and the monopoly licensing they are provided to practice their trade. PLN's past coverage on the role of medical doctors supervising torture, executions and providing shoddy and inadequate medical care to prisoners is the flip side of that responsibility being not just abdicated but abused.
Unfortunately, with tens of billions of dollars at stake each year in prison and jail spending, large segments of American society are now financially vested in the current system of mass imprisonment. This ranges from the 700,000 people directly employed in prisons and jails, to the companies that build and design the prisons, the companies that provide the goods associated with running such facilities and the rural communities that have latched onto prisons as a form of economic development. All of which makes positive change all that much harder.
The situation is similar to the slave trade where many of the people profiting handsomely from the practice: the ship builders and owners, ship crews, bankers, insurers, etc., did not personally own slaves and could simply claim they were only providing a service. But not all services are equal and awareness needs to be raised about the real social consequences of actions.
PLN will be working with the Architects/Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), to raise awareness around this campaign. We hope that other professions can also take note. Obviously if investment bankers were to eschew prison and jail bonds no more prisons would be built.
By now readers should have received PLN's annual fundraiser and I hope that you will donate to help support PLN's work and advocacy. We have accomplished a lot this year and look forward to doing even more next year.
We got behind on our publishing schedule this summer but are now on track to be back on schedule by early 2006. We apologize to our readers for the inconvenience.
I would like to thank those readers who send us news and information about happenings in their neck of the woods, especially verdicts and settlements. This is an important area of coverage. Please do not send legal pleadings or documents related to criminal cases or in which there has not been a final decision as we lack the space to report them.
Remember that all donations to PLN are tax deductible for those who pay them. Thank you for supporting PLN. Best wishes for the holiday season and have a happy new year.
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