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From the Editor

Welcome to our first issue of 2011. As we noted in last month’s issue, our second book, The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, was printed and started shipping. We have already received a lot of very positive feedback from readers and reviewers alike. A lot of work and effort went into the book and we are pleased at the positive reception it has received. Ordering information for THC and our first book, the Prisoners Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Courses, is in this issue of PLN. The Fourth edition of the Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual has also been very well received.

I would like to thank everyone who has donated to PLN’s annual fundraiser. If you have not yet donated to PLN’s annual fundraiser it is not too late to do so. We appreciate and rely on reader support to carry out our activities above and beyond publishing Prison Legal News each month. Even if you cannot afford to make a donation to PLN on your behalf, if you know someone who can, please encourage them to do so. Advocacy on behalf of prisoners and those enmeshed in the criminal justice system is not a popular topic and there is little in the way of mainstream funding for activities such as PLN.
Individual donors can and do make a big difference for a small organization like the Human Rights Defense Center, which publishes PLN.

As we enter the New Year the rights of prisoners to receive reading material are under assault like never before. PLN is THE ONLY magazine in the United States that consistently stands up for the rights of prisoners to receive books and magazines and the rights of publishers to communicate with prisoners. PLN has been banned by the entire prison system of Florida, supposedly because of our advertising content. We are also banned in the entire state of New York, supposedly because we accept stamps as payment from prisoners. Which we have done since 1990, if it is allowed by the prison rules where the subscriber is located.

Dozens of jails around the country are also banning all mail except postcards as well as books and magazines. PLN is confronting these attacks on our constitutional rights and those of our readers with our resources at hand. The staff at the Human Rights Defense Center, of which PLN is a part, have to devote a considerable amount of our time and energy to these First Amendment challenges. Lance Weber, our staff attorney, works long hours on prison and jail censorship cases. Your support makes it possible for us to stand up for free speech. No one else is doing it. If you think prisoners should have a right to receive a broad range of reading materials and publishers should have the right to communicate with prisoners, please support our efforts to make that ideal a reality.

In addition to censorship litigation, the HRDC is also available to provide representation to plaintiffs who have suffered catastrophic injury at the hands of the criminal justice system. Typically this includes wrongful death cases, suicides, rapes by staff, whistleblower and wrongful conviction cases where the conviction has already been reversed. Because of our very limited resources these are the only types of cases we are able to assist in. If you or someone you know has suffered this type of serious injury and need legal representation, please contact the Human Rights Defense Center at the same address as PLN.

If you are not already a subscriber of Prison Legal News and you are receiving this issue as a free sample copy, I hope you take the opportunity to subscribe. Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe as well.

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