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From the Editor

This issue of PLN sees the addition of Andrea Cavanaugh as a quarterly columnist for the magazine. Andrea is the media coordinator of Stop Prisoner Rape, a non profit advocacy organization in Los Angeles which seeks to eliminate the sexual assault of prisoners. I have been on the advisory board of SPR for a number of years now and believe that sexual assault is an integral management tool for prison and jail officials in this country and as a practice it needs to be eliminated.

Two things that need to be done are raising public awareness of the problem and also organizing and educating prisoners to end the practice. In many respects, awareness of the sexual assaults of prisoners is, legally and politically, where the sexual assault of women was 40 years ago in terms of the treatment of rape victims and public attitudes towards it. In popular culture, on television and elsewhere, the topic of prison rape is still considered a joke, when obviously rape outside of the prison context is not.

We look forward to future columns from Andrea as well as joint projects with SPR.

On November 12, 2005, long time Texas prisoner David Ruiz died at the age of 63 in the prison hospital in Galveston, Texas. Ruiz spent all of his adult life, except for 4 years, in prisons or jails and died while serving a life sentence for a robbery he committed on parole in 1983. Ruiz is best known for filing the hand written, pro se complaint in 1972 that transformed the Texas prison system and eliminated prison guards, instituted medical care and a host of other issues. The case was dismissed in 2002.

I once read that Ruiz's suit had cost the state of Texas at least $500 million in new prison construction alone. The suit that he filed, less than a year after the Attica massacre put prison reform on the political agenda, dramatically changed every aspect of the prison system in Texas, while at the same time many things changed little or not at all. Such is the history of prisons.

PLN's website is up and running and has a wealth of information on it with a lot more being added daily. By now all PLN subscribers should have received a mailing from us informing you of the website and how to subscribe.

This is also the time of year when PLN does its annual fund raiser. We rely on donations from our readers to fully cover our operating expenses and costs as subscription and advertising income only cover part of what it takes to put out PLN each month, do our advocacy work on behalf of prisoners, litigate for the free speech rights of prisoners and publishers and everything else that we do. If you can afford to make a donation to support an independent penal press please do so now. Every little bit helps so don't think for a minute that a small donation is unneeded, it is. All donations to PLN are tax deductible and can be made by mail, calling our office at 206-246-1022 or online at
Our fundraiser this year also includes a survey asking for readers' feedback about the content of the print edition of PLN and switching some of our content to the online website which would free up more print space to issues directly affecting prisoners who generally cannot access information on the internet. Please respond to the survey so we can see what information readers are most interested in. The topics we are planning to take out of the print edition of PLN and publish only online are: suicides, juveniles, immigration, employee litigation and crime victim litigation. Our thinking is that the people who have the greatest need or interest in these topics would still be able to read the articles on our website while the resulting space would allow us to run more prison and jail related articles. Give this some thought when you respond to the survey. We will still be covering these issues, just not in print unless readers prefer we continue the print coverage.

We hope to be on schedule with our February issue and again apologize for falling behind on our publishing schedule. This issue is being mailed in late November. Everyone at PLN would like to wish our readers and supporters a happy holiday season and best wishes for a more militant new year.

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