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From the Editor

Readers will have received the January and February, 2009 issues of PLN later than usual because we had a problem with our mailing list database. The problem has been resolved and we are now moving back towards our regular publishing schedule. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

On January 28, 2009, John Dannenberg was finally released from prison. John has been a longtime PLN subscriber and began writing for PLN around ten years ago. He has been an excellent writer and a friend. His long parole ordeal, like that of thousands of prisoners in California and elsewhere, was a roller coaster of despair. The good news is that after several years of litigation and three writs of habeas corpus being granted, he was finally released. Of course, a writ of habeas corpus isn’t what it used to be and we can note it takes one court order to put someone in prison and three to get them out. The article on John’s court ordeal is in this issue of PLN. John wrote the article over a year ago, and it sat in my “to run” file until the day came that he was finally released.

I am also very pleased to announce the publication of the Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada, 3rd Edition. This is the first book to be published by Prison Legal News and we hope there are many more to come. We plan to focus on self-help and non-fiction reference books useful to prisoners that commercial publishers may be unwilling to publish because they are unprofitable or have a limited market. Getting into book publishing has been a learning experience but one that has been useful. We are publishing thoroughly professional, reliable and useful books. If you or someone you know is a qualified author, drop us a line or an e-mail. We will soon announce instructions for the criteria for book proposals.

Jon Marc Taylor, Susan Schwartzkopf and Jules Siegel have done a fantastic job of writing, editing and laying out this edition of the Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook. If you are in prison and want to get an education, this is the book you need. With the demise of higher education behind bars, we hope that updating and publishing a book like this will allow prisoners to learn how to obtain college degrees in prison to better improve their lives both while they are in and after they get out. Prisoners should encourage their prison libraries and education departments to purchase reference copies of this highly informative book.

While we are on the good news roll, which is a change, this month’s cover story reports on the successful effort to prevent CCA general counsel Gustavus Puryear IV from obtaining a federal judgeship after he was nominated by former President Bush. When Puryear was first nominated I thought his judgeship was a forgone conclusion: he was a rich, politically connected, Republican corporate lawyer. He was personal friends with Vice President Dick Cheney and Tennessee’s two U.S. senators. Alex Friedmann, PLN’s associate editor, was insistent that Puryear’s nomination be opposed. One thing about fighting losing battles is that occasionally we win one. This was such a battle. Alex did a brilliant job on his own time and at his own cost independent of PLN, while juggling his many and time-consuming duties as PLN’s associate editor, to dig up the facts and then rally political support to ensure that Puryear’s nomination did not go to the Senate floor. Even more impressive, Alex was able to do this on a shoe string budget.

In some respects, Puryear was saved from a large pay cut. He is still making millions as CCA’s corporate counsel, rather than the $180,000 he would make as a federal judge. And he is still a member of the racist and sexist Belle Meade Country Club. The important lesson to be drawn from this struggle is that sometimes the underdog wins, and sometimes huge government corporations can be run into the ground or defeated on tactical issues and sometimes strategic ones as well. Kudos to Alex for a job well done and to the many groups and people who supported this effort.

Remember that PLN’s subscription rates increased in February 2009, and the new rates are $24 a year for prisoners, $30 for non prisoners, and $80 for professionals and institutions. Prisoners can pay with stamps or embossed envelopes as long as they are new and in excellent condition. PLN still represents the best bargain around for timely, informative and useful prison-related news and legal information.

We always want to maintain our relevance and usefulness to our readers. This issue of PLN has a reader’s survey, which we conduct every few years. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey and return it. These surveys are extremely important because they allow us to know what readers want more of, what they would just as soon see us stop or drop, and how we can better serve your needs. It also helps give us a better idea of who reads PLN and what you want from the magazine. Even if you love PLN and think everything is great, fill out the survey and let us know. If you think we can improve, send along your suggestions. And if you are unhappy with PLN, let us know that too so we can improve.
Thank you for your continued support of PLN.

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