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From the Editor

With the election past there has been a change in the faces of government and the election of Barak Obama is a historic occasion in US history with the election of a black man to the presidency for the first time. Whether there is any positive change on the criminal justice front for prisoners remains to be seen. At the federal level, the 100-1 crack to powder cocaine sentencing disparity remains a grave source of injustice and one that the criminal justice community has long called to be repealed or changed. The concentration camp at Guantanamo and the governmental policies of kidnapping, torture and indefinite imprisonment without charges remain an obvious source of outrage. The Prison Litigation Reform Act continues to impede prisoners’ right of court access.

Mr. Obama comes to the presidency with a scant record of accomplishment for the poor in general and prisoners in particular. Hopefully he will make up for lost time and address these issues in a positive manner. Given the huge impact that criminal justice practices have on both the poor in general and poor communities of color in particular, the injustices and disparities are long past need for serious change. Whether any change comes remains to be seen. We can note that almost all the prison guard and police unions endorsed Obama over McCain and Vide President Biden has for decades been a proponent of many of the most repressive laws and crime bills to be enacted. A year from now we can see how far hope has gotten us.

Regardless of who occupies the white house; on other political fronts the news is generally bad. Ballot initiatives in California that would have diverted drug addicts from prison into treatment failed while an initiative that will make it even harder for California lifers to be released on parole passed. In Oregon, voters passed two initiatves to expand the prison population by increasing mandatory minimums for property offenders. Upcoming issues of PLN will report on these issues and more.

As the year closes, PLN has a number of exciting projects underway. We expect to have the third edition of the Prisoners Guerrilla Handbook Self Help Guide to Correspondence Programs in the US and Canada ready for shipping by January, 2008. This will be PLN’s first book publishing project and it has involved a learning curve as we get into another area of publishing. Jon Marc Taylor and Susan Schwartzkopf have done a fantastic job on the book and readers will be pleased with it. In addition to updating all the entries we have also professionally designed the cover and contents and thoroughly professionalized the book. We hope to begin publishing other non fiction reference books of interest to prisoners after this title.

We hope that readers who have received the PLN annual fundraiser will send a donation to help PLN continue its work. In addition to publishing the magazine, each year we do a considerable amount of advocacy on behalf of prisoners. This includes testimony before congress and state legislatures, testimony before the Federal Communications Commission on prison telephone rates, before the US Commission on Civil Rights on the religious rights of prisoners, campaigns against the private prison industry, and much more. In addition to publishing our monthly magazine, distributing books, litigation, and much more. Your tax deductible donations and support make all this possible and much more.

After going eight years without raising our subscription rates we finally have to do so after several years of postage and printing increases. Effective February 1, 2009, the subscription rate for prisoners will be $24 for 12 issues; $30 for non prisoners and $80 for professionals and institutions. Readers can note we have steadily increased our size and continue to bring our readers more news and information than ever before. You can lock in the current subscription rates by subscribing now or extending your subscription. All subscriptions postmarked after February 1 will be prorated at the new rates. Readers ask if they can purchase books or subscriptions from PLN using stamps. The answer is yes you can. The stamps must be new and unused. Just send the appropriate amount for the items you are purchasing. PLN does not however purchase stamps, but several of our advertisers offer this service. See their ads in this issue of PLN.

Everyone at PLN would like to wish our readers, subscribers and supporters a happy holiday season and best wishes for a new year of greater struggle for human rights for everyone.

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