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From the Editor
I am pleased to include in this issue a lengthy interview with John on his decades of work representing prisoners (and he has represented juveniles, adult and mental institution prisoners along the way) which gives some perspective on how far our movement has come and how far we still have to go. Todd Matthews is an excellent free lance journalist based in Tacoma. We hope that this is the first in an ongoing series of interviews with the long time and all but unsung heroes and heroines of the prisoner rights movement.
I went to prison in 1987 and became an advocate and activist for the rights of prisoners shortly after getting to prison. In the years since I have met a lot of people in the prisoner rights movement. The ones who have impressed and inspired me the most are the ones who have stuck with it, year after year, who have dedicated their lives and careers to improving the lives of prisoners. With this series we hope to examine their thoughts on what has been accomplished and what remains to be done. I welcome our readers feedback.
This is the last issue of PLN for 2007. Looking back we have accomplished quite a bit thanks to you, our readers and supporters. On the legal front we won settlements revamping the mail systems of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Dallas Jail in Texas. We won an extensive injunction against the Kansas Department of Corrections over its unconstitutional mail censorship policies and practices and we settled the biggest public records case in Washington state history against the Department of Corrections. That was just in 2007.
The PLN website has quickly become one of the most visited websites covering prison and jail issues shortly after we launched it this summer. Our website now receives around 80,000 visitors a month and comes up at the top of the search engines for questions related to prisons and jails. It is also rapidly becoming a leading resource for researchers, activists and lawyers. If you have internet access (and if you are in prison and don?t, tell your friends and family about it) check it out at www.prisonlegalnews.org. Our thanks go to Carmen Santora and the hard working programmers at Accufind who made it happen.
After a lot of hard work Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Incarcerationt is finally out and available a few weeks ahead of schedule. The publisher, The New Press, has released the book in hard back. Because many prisons do not allow hard back books and to make the book more affordable for our readers, PLN negotiated a special paperback printing and PLN is the sole distributor of the paperback edition until the New Press releases a paperback version in around a year. Edited by myself and Tara Herivel, the book is an anthology exposing not who is harmed by the current policies of mass imprisonment but who benefits from them and more importantly, who profits. From the bond traders and investment bankers who finance prison building, to the people who build them, the private prison industry, private medical care, etc. This is the first book to look at who is making billions off mass imprisonment.
Contributors include the top experts in the field, including Judy Green, Kevin Pranis, Alex Friedmann, Silja Talvi, Ann Marie Cusac, Samantha Shapiro, David Reutter, Peter Wagner, Gary Hunter, Kristen Levingston, Jennifer Gonnerman, Ian Urbina, Paul Von Zielbauer, Wil Hylton, Steve Jackson, Clayton Mosher, Gregory Hooks and Peter Wood.
This is the third installment in the PLN series of the reality of mass imprisonment in America. The first book, The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the US Prison Industry and Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America?s Poor are also available from PLN. If you are looking for that perfect holiday gift consider one, two or all three of these books.
PLN continues to be a leading source of media and public advocacy for prisoners, parolees and criminal defendants. Rarely does a week go by where PLN, associate editor Alex Friedmann or I are not quoted by a mainstream media source. We also do a fair amount of public events and speaking on a variety of criminal justice topics. On November 17, 2007, I gave a presentation on mass imprisonment and the exponential growth of the US prison system to members of the Petra Foundation at the Center for American Progress. Two weekends before that I gave a presentation and a workshop of challenging prison censorship at the national Books to Prisoners conference in in Champaign, Illinois while Alex was moderating a panel on challenging conditions of confinement in immigration prisons at the National Lawyers Guild convention in Washington DC.
It is your support above and beyond the cost of your subscriptions which makes all this possible. Subscription and advertising income only cover a portion of PLN?s expenses. The litigation, the advocacy and everything we do above and beyond that is supported by the support of individual readers like you and the modest amount of grant funding that PLN receives. By now readers should have received PLN?s annual fundraiser letter. As you think about places to make donations keep in mind that if you want bang for the prison struggle buck, no one makes a dollar go farther than PLN does. At the end of the day we can point to the concrete results we achieve with your support: the magazine we publish and distribute each month; the advocacy work, the media outreach, the litigation, the book publishing and much more. PLN is small enough, and lean enough that even a modest donation goes a long way and more importantly it makes a difference especially when there is so little in the way of funding for the work that PLN does from other sources. PLN?s annual report outlining our activities for 2005 and 2006 are currently on our website. If you have not made a donation to PLN yet, please do so now.
Everyone at PLN would like to wish our readers and supporters a happy holiday season and best wishes for a new greater of greater struggle and, hopefully, progress.
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