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From the Editor

This month’s cover story on Plata v. Schwarzenegger is an ample illustration of the political failures that have led to the current state of the criminal justice system around the country. Namely the lack of political will to ensure public safety and to respect the human and civil rights of poor people. As Don Specter’s article illustrates, the current state of affairs in the California prison system has been decades in the making and only when there is an ongoing body count of dozens of needless deaths a year and a dozen medical class-action lawsuits have failed, did the federal judiciary step in to safeguard the constitutional rights of California prisoners.

Alas, the medical plight of prisoners is not confined to California but is a national problem that is largely ignored for the simple reason that politicians want to lock people up but don’t want to spend money on their health care. With Plata going to the Supreme Court it promises to be the most significant prisoner rights case of the 21st century. We have been reporting on the case since its inception and will continue to do so.

I am pleased to report that the move to our Vermont office is complete and we have largely completed the transition from Seattle to Vermont. Please direct all correspondence to our Vermont office to ensure timely responses. Mail sent to our Seattle address is forwarded to us weekly.

A number of readers have ordered The Citebook which we have distributed for a number of years. The book has been on back order for several months now and I was recently informed by the publisher that the book is out of print and the author is working on a new edition. As soon as the new edition is available we will announce it in PLN. Everyone who ordered a copy of The Citebook from us who has not received a copy should have received a refund by now.
We are working away on publishing The Habeas Corpus Citebook by Brandon Sample, which will be a compendium of winning federal habeas cases focusing on ineffective assistance of counsel claims. As this issue of PLN goes to press the manuscript is largely done and we hope to have the book ready for shipping by October. As soon as it is available we will announce it in PLN. This is the second book published by PLN Publishing and we look forward to printing 1-2 self-help reference books a year on topics that are of interest to prisoners.

Censorship of PLN and the books we distribute continues to be a problem. If you are a prisoner and a PLN subscriber and your subscription or books ordered from us are censored, please let us know and send us a copy of whatever documentation you are provided with so we can focus on resolving the issue. Most of the time PLN is not notified of censorship.

I would like to thank those readers who continue to send us their verdicts and settlements to report in PLN. Please continue sending them as you are able to since it is the most solicited aspect of our news reporting. All we need to report these cases are the last complaint filed in the case and the verdict, settlement or judgment in the case.

PLN receives between 500-1,000 pieces of mail each week. The best way to write PLN is to be brief and to the point. The longer the letter the more likely things are to be overlooked. If you are sending a change of address and send in a two-page letter, mention the address change in the first paragraph, not the last. We often get requests for legal assistance from our readers. In some cases we can provide referrals in civil cases, either through direct representation from Adam Cook, our in-house staff attorney, or through other counsel. But as a general rule we can only do this in catastrophic injury cases where significant injuries have been incurred. If you are wondering what “significant” and “catastrophic” injuries are, then you probably don’t have them. But most of the time we are unable to provide any assistance at all in civil matters. Moreso with criminal matters. We know of no one who provides pro bono criminal representation aside from the various innocence projects that provide representation to factually innocent prisoners. This is simply a reflection of this period of American history where 15 years of the Prison Litigation Reform Act have made litigation involving prisoners even more difficult to bring than ever before.

Enjoy this issue of PLN and if this is not your copy or you have received a sample copy of PLN, I hope you consider subscribing. We currently have around 7,000 subscribers. If we can boost that number to 10,000 it would reduce our per issue costs significantly.

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