The problems in juvenile and youth prisons mimic those of adult prisons: brutality, abuse, overcrowding, medical and mental health neglect, sexual assault, overcrowding and more. Key differences are that children are especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation simply by virtue of the fact they are children and if they are unfortunate enough not to have families to advocate for them, and most do not, they lack the ability to advocate for themselves. Unlike adult prisoners who can at least try to access the court system, contact the media, etc., child prisoners are incapable of doing this. They also tend to lack the ability to organize themselves and protest their treatment.
Texas is far from alone in having massive problems in its juvenile prison system. PLN has reported on similar problems elsewhere. Our ability to do so is hampered by a lack of resources on our part to extensively cover juvenile prisons to the extent we would like. Having limited resources means we have to prioritize our coverage and we put a higher priority on news emanating from adult prisons and jails since that is where the bulk of our readers are. (PLN has very few juvenile prisoner subscribers).
If you disagree with PLN?s news priorities you can do something about it. By now all readers will have received PLN?s matching grant fundraiser. If you have not yet donated I hope you do so. The cost of annual subscriptions does not cover everything that PLN does. Your donations above and beyond the cost of a subscription are vital to PLN?s continued existence. PLN has not increased its subscription price since 2000, despite expanding in size and being hit with a number of sizeable printing and postage increases. All the money PLN receives goes back into the magazine to bring readers more high quality news they can use. All donations up to $15,000 received by February 28, 2008, will be matched dollar for dollar if given by non prisoners and matched $2 for every dollar donated if given by a prisoner. If you believe in an independent prison press please send a donation now to support it. Consider that for $18 a year prisoners are getting 12 issues, or 576 pages, of news and information delivered to them each month. No one else offers the quality and value PLN does.
Secondly, prisoner readers will have received PLN?s biannual reader survey (we did not send it to non prisoner readers since in the past very few have responded to them. If you are a non prisoner and would like one, e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for one). We do the survey to get your input on what you think of our coverage, what you like about PLN, what you dislike and how we can make it a better magazine. This includes our news and legal coverage. The surveys are very important as PLN?s goal since we started in 1990 is to serve our readers. Let us know what you need if we are not providing it already. Are you interested in stories like the cover story on juvenile prisons in Texas? If you are, say so on the survey. If you think the space can be better used on issues affecting adult prisoners, let us know. We only have 48 pages to work with for now (another $10,000 a year would allow us to expand another 8 pages to 56 pages a month and bring readers still more news).
How many people read your copy of PLN? Do you read the ads in each issue of PLN? These are important questions that we need answers to when we file censorship lawsuits and when we pitch companies on advertising their products and services with PLN. Please take a minute and fill out and return your survey. I will report the results later in the year once we have tabulated the results.
Lastly, the latest PLN anthology, Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Imprisonment, edited by myself and Tara Herivel, is out and receiving very favorable reviews as the first book to expose who is benefitting from the current policies of mass incarceration. PLN is the exclusive distributor of the paperback edition which can be ordered from us. If you are looking for a good book to start the new year off with, this is it.
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