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From the Editor

This year?s matching grant fundraiser went well and raised a total of $17,994.69. Prisoners donated over $1,000 of this amount. We would like to thank everyone who donated to the fundraiser. Fundraiser donations are making possible the revamping of PLN?s website to be more user friendly and efficient and be able to better disseminate our news and message. As soon as that is completed we will update and upgrade our mailing list program to better ensure the delivery of PLN to all our readers. We will report progress as it happens.

We receive frequent inquiries about the status of the Prisoners? Self Help Litigation Manual by Dan Manville and John Boston. The next edition is being finalized and the authors will promptly announce it?s availability in PLN.

If you move please promptly notify us of your new address to prevent delays in delivery of your subscription. Please review your mailing label to ensure it is correct and send us any changes.

PLN continues to be mentioned in various other media. I was quoted in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Seven Days, a Vermont weekly did a story on Prison Legal News, Utne Reader reviewed PLN and we continue to field media requests and interviews, including by National Public Radio, and other media.

In this issue we report the tremendous victory won by the Center for Constitutional Rights in challenging the extortionate phone rates charged to the friends and family members of prisoners. Hopefully this breathes new life into this struggle and it shows that many struggles are political as much as they are legal. To the extent the prisoner rights movement relies so much on litigation is a reflection of our political weakness. Congratulations to the CCR team for their efforts at achieving equitable phone rates for the friends and family members of New York State prisoners.

Our cover story this month is on the plight of prisoners in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. As the disaster unfolded there was ample media coverage of events in New Orleans in general and some on the jails in particular. And it later turned out that virtually all the initial stories and coverage were wrong (i.e., mass killings in the Super Dome, snipers shooting at police helicopters, etc.). PLN has always prided itself on getting it right rather than getting it fast. Even now, almost 18 months later, there is a lot of confusion and mystery about what exactly happened in New Orleans jails during Katrina. For example, there are no publicly available figures on exactly how prisoners died during the hurricane. No one who knows will say exactly how many prisoners escaped or if any drowned in their cells. In some respects this story is as much what we still don?t know as what we do know. It also perfectly illustrates the dominant view that prisoners in this country are an expendable population as well as the central role of prisons in maintaining social order. It is no coincidence that the very first government entity to open in New Orleans after the devastation of Katrina was a jail.

Next month PLN will celebrate its 17th anniversary of publishing. We are planning to expand in size but need more advertisers to do so. If you know of any businesses that cater to prisoners or PLN?s other subscribers, please send us their contact information and we can send them a media packet. This includes prison vendor lists, book publishers and distributors.

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