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From the Editor

This editorial is being written in Wichita, Kansas on February 14, 2007. For the past two days PLN?s executive director, Don Miniken, and I have been attending the bench trial before USDC Judge Monte Belot in Prison Legal News v. Werholtz. PLN filed the lawsuit in 2002 challenging the Kansas Department of Corrections ban on gft subscriptions, the arbitrary $40.00 limit it imposes on publication purchases per month, the lack of due process notice to publishers when it censors mail sent to its prisoners and prohibiting prisoners at level one from receiving publications.

While the suit was pending, the number of Kansas prisoners who subscribe to PLN have dropped from 52 to 35 as a result of these policies. Both Don and I testified on behalf of PLN to the effect that these policies violate the rights of both prisoners and publishers such as PLN. The court has asked for additional briefing and indicated it would issue an opinion shortly. The case was previously dismissed sub nom Zimmerman v. Simmons, 260 F.Supp.2d 1077 (D. Kans. 2003) which was reversed and remanded for trial sub nom Jacklovich v. Simmons, 392 F.3d 420 (10th Cir. 2004). The claims of the prisoner plaintiffs were dismissed previously as moot since they have since been released from prison. PLN?s suit had been consolidated with those filed by pro se prisoners Joseph Jacklovich and Kris Zimmerman.

The court heard testimony from prisoners Jerry Rice, Donald Halpin, former prisoner Joseph jacklovich, Don and myself and our expert witness Patrick McManus, a former secretary of the Kansas DOC. The state presented testimony from its secretary, Roger Werholtz and deputy secretary Charles Simmons and several other officials. PLN was very abl represented by Bruce Plenk and Max Kautsch. The indicated it would issue a ruling within the next few months. We will report the verdict when it issues. We would like to thank the witnesses and counsel for their assistance and support. PLN has successfully challenged gift subscription bans in Washington, Oregon and Alabama.

What is somewhat disappointing is the fact that a case like this, involving fundamental free speech values and freedom of the press is left to a small non profit like PLN to wage and fight while the large media corporations, who pay lip service to the notion of free speech, are nowhere to be seen when their publications are censored and when prisoners are subjected to arbitrary rules that prevent them from reading their materials.

It is important that prisoner readers notify PLN if their issues of PLN are censored or otherwise not delivered by prison or jail officials since that is sometimes the only way we learn of the censorship.

In next month?s editorial I will announce the total raised in PLN?s matching grant fundraiser as we are still receiving late donations as we go to press.

The manuscript for the forthcoming PLN anthology Prison Profiteers: Who Makes a Buck from Mass Imprisonment has been submitted to the publisher and is on schedule to being available for purchase in November of this year.

The cover story of this issue is among the great articles that will be in the book. Which explores the various interests that profit handsomely from mass imprisonment. In upcoming issues of PLN we will be reporting the impact and effect of prisons on the environment.

Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe.

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