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From the Editor

Welcome to the 21st anniversary issue of Prison Legal News. Since we started publishing 21 years ago, one thing has remained constant: prison and jail officials really don’t like PLN and try their best to censor us. The first three issues of PLN were banned by the Washington DOC in 1990, and the Texas prison system banned the first 18 issues.

Twenty-one years later, nine states, nine jails and a private prison find themselves under federal court injunctions and/or consent decrees related to their censorship of PLN. Despite knowing that we vigorously challenge the censorship of our magazine and books, we are faced with statewide bans in Florida and New York, and jails seem to be falling over themselves to ban mail to prisoners. Right now we have active censorship lawsuits pending in Texas and against jails in Washington, California and South Carolina. Plus there are more on the way.

All of this keeps Lance Weber, our staff attorney, and our local lawyers very busy as they fight vigorously to ensure that prisoners around the country can receive PLN and our books. A key issue that we face in almost every lawsuit is that the prison or jail does not tell us they are censoring our materials; thus, we have to rely on prisoners to notify us. If any item mailed by PLN is censored, please send us all the related documentation and let us know about the censorship so we can take appropriate steps to challenge it. Do not assume the prison or jail notified us, because most of the time they do not.

I would like to thank readers who inform us about the cases they win or settle so we can report them in PLN. Please keep sending us your successful verdicts and settlements, as they are an important component of our news coverage and all too often one that is available nowhere else.

In the first few years of PLN’s publishing, I would thank all of the wonderful people who made each year of our existence possible. Two decades later that list would fill up many pages. We would not still be publishing after 21 years if it were not for the dedicated support of our many current and former employees, writers, volunteers, subscribers, lawyers, advertisers, funders and many other supporters. I would like to thank all of the people and organizations that have contributed to PLN over the past 21 years.

Our cover story in the April 2011 issue of Prison Legal News, exposing the corruption and price gouging practices of the prison telephone industry, has received extensive and very favorable feedback from our readers and the media. In the course of researching the story we obtained a massive amount of data related to prison phone services. We are in the process of setting up a website that will allow us to make that information widely available to those interested in this issue, which is an important topic that affects all prisoners and everyone who has a loved one in prison. We will announce the website’s launch as soon as it is ready.

If you believe in an independent media and in human rights for those detained in American prisons and jails, then I hope you will help us celebrate our 21st anniversary by making a donation to support our work. We know that a great many people read PLN who are not subscribers. If you can afford to subscribe, please do so as it will help us keep our costs down as well as expand our circulation and impact.

Enjoy this issue of PLN.

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