As noted in this issue of PLN, after 5 years of banning books ordered from PLN, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections capitulated and now allows prisoners in their custody to receive books from PLN by adding us to their approved vendor list. The litigation continues now for damages and attorney fees. This occurred a week after PLN sued the DOC. In Rhode Island, the DOC there had been requiring prisoners to order books and subscriptions from their prison trust account. After receiving demand letters from PLN and the RI ACLU noting that PLN has successfully sued four states on this issue, the DOC finally saw the light and they too capitulated and changed their policy to allow prisoners to receive gift subscriptions and publications. But victories such as these all consume staff time and resources.
The Virginia DOC has banned all issues of PLN statewide claiming that ads in PLN somehow threaten prison security. PLN is currently attempting to resolve the issue administratively (courts have already held that PLN cannot be censored due to its ad content). Likewise, some of the larger jails around the country have also taken to banning all books and magazines, including PLN. Which requires our limited resources to recruit counsel and litigate the matters.
PLN has been active in legislative efforts to amend the Prison Litigation Reform Act as well as providing comments on the new standards for the Prison Rape Elimination Act. We are working with a number of other organizations on these efforts and will be reporting the outcomes in future issues. We are also busy speaking at conferences and events about the rights of prisoners, conditions in US prisons and jails and much more.
Alex Friedmann, PLN’s associate editor has been spearheading the campaign to ensure that Gustavus Adolphus Puryear IV, general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is not appointed to the federal district court in the Middle District of Tennessee by President Bush.
Alex has generated extensive media coverage of the fact that Puryear is biased, unqualified and a Republican party hack poorly suited for the federal bench. He has also enlisted support from a wide variety of organizations to oppose Puryear’s nomination, ranging from the National Organization for Women, the Alliance for Justice, National Lawyers Guild, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Grassroots Leadership and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees have come forward on this issue. Media coverage of the issue has disclosed that, according to Time Magazine, CCA maintains two sets of audit books, one for internal use and the other for their government clients. We will report the full details on this monumental campaign once there is a final outcome. Full details and a lot more can be found at:
www.againstpuryear.org. The US senate judiciary committee is still considering Puryear’s nomination. Other issues of controversy are his membership in the Belle Meade country club, a club that does not allow its women members to vote and which in 1994 admitted it’s lone Black member, who lives out of state and also cannot vote; and Puryear’s misleading and evasive statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee related to the murder of Estelle Richardson, a prisoner in the CCA run Nashville jail.
We are still offering very discounted subscriptions for new subscribers as part of our subscription madness campaign. We hope readers will take this opportunity to introduce their friends, families and colleagues as well as opinion makers and legislators to PLN.
Please continue sending us your verdicts and settlements in the cases won by prisoners so we can report them in PLN or put them into our website database. This is information of great interest to all PLN readers.
PLN’s website has been going through steady upgrades to make it more user friendly. We also continue to put documents and information into it on an almost daily basis. Our brief bank of motions, appeal briefs, unpublished rulings, administrative rulings, settlements and verdicts now has over 1,900 documents in it. Our publications library has over 1,400 reports, audits, expert reports, policy papers and more in it. Our main database has over 12,000 articles and case summaries and over 7,000 court decisions. All content is easily searchable and printable for mailing to prisoners. PLN’s website is receiving over 100,000 visitors per month and has become the most comprehensive source of information on prisons and jails and litigation about detention facilities anywhere. While prisoners do not have access to the internet their friends and families do. We are the only source for much of this information, especially our brief bank of winning legal documents. People can order books, subscriptions and much more from the PLN website at: www. prisonlegalnews.org.
Lastly, if you are moved please notify PLN of the move and your new address. If your copies of PLN and any books ordered from PLN are censored by prison or jail officials please notify PLN so we can take appropriate action. Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe.
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