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From the Editor

The past few months have been very busy at PLN. In addition to publishing our first book, the Prisoners Guerrilla Handbook Guide to Correspondence Programs in the US and Canada, we have also been making significant administrative changes. We have changed the name of our non profit organization from Prisoners’ Legal News to the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC). The HRDC will be our umbrella organization which will continue publishing Prison Legal News the magazine, Prison Legal News book publishing and any other publishing projects we may add in the future.

Most significantly, the HRDC is adding a litigation component to our organization which will be HRDC litigation. Thanks to the generosity of an individual donor, we have been able to hire a staff attorney to represent PLN in censorship litigation and also handle other select cases on behalf of other plaintiffs. Dan Manville, best known as the co author of the Prisoners Self Help Litigation Manual is one of the top prisoner rights attorney in the United States and he has agreed to be the first HRDC staff attorney. We welcome Dan on board. Dan was one of PLN’s earliest subscribers and represented us in our 1998 lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections involving the censorship of The Celling of America.

We will be creating a new HRDC website and making other administrative changes as we move forward with these different projects. We will announce the changes as they occur. For PLN magazine subscribers nothing will change. Among the prison and jail court cases we will be seeking to assist plaintiffs on, as well as providing referrals, will be death and catastrophic injury cases and jail strip searches of misdemeanor arrestees. We hope to expand our litigation capabil-ity if we receive additional funding to do so.

I would like to thank all those who responded to PLN’s survey in the March issue of PLN. As this issue goes to press, we have received 514 responses to the survey. 485 of the respondents were men and 502 are currently imprisoned, 413 in state prisons and 83 in the Bureau of Prisons. 499 of the survey respondents think that PLN is a good value for their money and 481 would recommend it to others. 221 think our topic range is “excellent” and 295 say the same about our writing quality. The numbers are 239 and 193, respectively, for those who rate those as “good”. Pretty much all our read-ers loan their copies of PLN to others with 163 stating they loan them to more than 8 other people. Majorities of 377 voted to keep the cover story size the same and for more in depth stories. 292 readers want a longer news in brief section. 393 want more medical coverage.

Interestingly, 263 readers responded that they did not want graphics in PLN and 302 did not want artwork. It looks like this is the triumph of content over graphics but by a close margin. Basically, the readers who responded to the survey are pretty happy with Prison Legal News the way we are as far as content and appearance goes. I will be reading all the comments on the survey responses over the summer. Thank you for everyone who took the time to respond. The survey responses are an important means for us to know how we can better serve our readers. I am always surprised at how positive and encouraging our readers are. I was very surprised that not a single respondent thought our topic range or writing quality was “bad”. And only two thought PLN is not useful. Those are pretty good numbers. I think people are more likely to complain when they are unhappy about something than when they are happy so the high positive responses are all the more significant.

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