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From the Editor

Welcome to the first issue of PLN for 2009. For the new year we are introducing a new quarterly column in PLN called Prison Health and Self Care by Dr. Michael Cohen. Dr. Cohen is a doctor who has extensive experience working with prisoners in state prisons and jails and he helped put together the diabetis handbook distributed by PLN which is published by the Southern Poverty law Center.

PLN reports extensively on health and medical issues in prisons and jails. Unfortunately, our coverage is rarely positive. All too often we are reporting the medical neglect and abuse of prisoners; inadequate medical resources and outright malpractice and the systemic failure to provide prisoners with adequate medical care that afflicts pretty much every prison and jail in the United States. By adding this column we hope to be able to provide prisoners with sound, reliable and basic medical information they can use to try to maintain themselves healthy while they are imprisoned. Hence the need to have a medical professional who not only knows medicine, but also the reality of prison and jail life.

In the 17 years I spent in prison the biggest fear that I had was getting sick as I was all too familiar with the state of medical care in the Washington prison system. While prisoners are limited in the things they can do to keep and stay healthy, like everything else, there are always things prisoners can do to improve their health and that requires basic knowledge and information about how diseases and illnesses spread and develop and what individuals can do to reduce their risk of illness. Dr. Cohen’s first column in this issue is on MRSA. Future columns will cover diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension and other illnesses. If you have column suggestions write directly to Dr. Cohen. Remember, this is a quarterly column which will appear four times a year so space is limited.

By now all readers should have received their PLN fundraiser for our annual fundraiser. To date we have raised a little over $5,000 which is well below our $15,000 matching grant goal. If you can make a donation please do so. Donations make our work possible and we rely on these donations for our annual fundraiser to get us through the year. We realize that times are tough financially but all the more reason to donate to PLN.

Remember that on February 1, 2009, PLN’s annual subscription rates are increasing to $24 for a one year prisoner subscription; $30 for an annual individual subscription and $80 for professional and institutional subscriptions. You can extend your subscription at the current rates by renewing now. All subscriptions received with post marks after February 1 will be prorated at the new rates. Readers can make donations and subscribe via our website at: This is our first subscription rate increase in eight years. When PLN started in 1990 as a ten page photocopied newsletter a one year subscription was $10. That 19 years later a prisoner subscriber can get twelve 56 page issues for only $24 makes PLN the best bang for the buck out their in the world of legal and prisoner rights publishing.

I would like to thank all those readers who send in copies of their verdicts and settlements for the cases they win so we can report them in PLN and add them to our database. Keep sending them in so everyone will know about your wins.

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

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