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From the Editor

This is the first issue of PLN published during the Barak Obama presidency. Hopefully we will see change for the better. Even before he took office Obama and Biden were making good on their promises to provide billions of dollars to local police departments to put another 50,000 cops on the streets. To bypass the senate they are planning to take funds from the bank bailout “stimulus” package and use it for more cops. Since every major police and prison guard union and law enforcement association had endorsed Obama and Biden’s campaign this appears to be the immediate payback. Bush had ended that federal subsidy to local law enforcement which was a Clinton project dating to the 1994 Crime Bill which Senator Biden authored. We shall see what happens. To date, as we report in this issue of PLN, the Second Chance Act, which was passed by congress last year to help the reentry of released prisoners into society has yet to be funded. Billions for cops, nothing for reentry. We will continue to hope for change. Change for the better.

I would like to thank those who donated to PLN’s annual fundraiser. We will tally and report the results in the next issue. But it looks like we will meet our $15,000 goal.

Each week PLN gets a lot of mail from our prisoner subscribers. Please do not send us documents or pleadings related to your criminal cases as we are unable to provide any assistance on that. If you win court decisions on the merits and win or settle cases for damages we want to report those, all we need is the ruling or settlement/verdict sheet with the complaint or claim which lays out the underlying facts of the case. And we thank readers for sending us newspaper clippings as on prison and jail news as well. We are able to cover the major media (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, etc.) online, so please do not send us those articles. What is especially useful are the news articles that appear in the small newspapers of prison towns related to local prison news as this is often not available online or via the internet.

When writing to PLN, please be brief and to the point. We often get five and ten page letters from prisoners on topics where there is nothing we can do to help and then in the last paragraph it says “by the way, I have been moved, please change my address.” PLN received nearly 1,000 pieces of mail a week. We can help you better if you are brief and make your letters easier to read as it takes far less staff time to do that than plow through a lengthy letter. Brief letters are fine, if we need more information we can contact you.

We also receive inquiries from subscribers asking us about our advertisers. We do our best to ensure that our advertisers are legitimate businesses offering real services. Susan Schwartzkopf, PLN’s advertising director, does a fantastic job working with vendors who provide services to prisoners. Many of PLN’s advertisers have been with us for literally well over a decade. That said, we lack the resources to scrutinize each and every advertiser. Simply use common sense as you would with any vendor or service. If it sounds too good to be true, it may be. We are always seeking to expand our advertising base as it has allowed PLN to expand its size over the past ten years. If you are aware of any businesses that may be interested in reaching PLN’s 80,000 plus monthly readers, send us their name and contact information and we will send them our advertising package. Likewise, if you patronize PLN’s advertisers, please tell them that you saw their ad in PLN so they will know they are getting results.

Note our subscription rates increased on February 1, 2009 to $24 a year for prisoners; $30 a year for non prisoners and $80 a year for professionals and institutions. All subscriptions and renewals that we receive postmarked after February 1 will be pro rated at the new rate. Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe.

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