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From the Editor

In April 1990, the month before PLN published its first issue, Washington state enacted the nation’s first civil commitment law targeting sex offenders for indefinite imprisonment once they had completed their criminal sentences. Our results-oriented judiciary has upheld civil commitment against assorted legal challenges, finding it is a civil matter to confine people against their will for what they might do in the future based wholly on what they have done in the past.

It is telling that with rampant sexual predation by priests and prison guards, not a single one of those sexual abusers has been deemed a “sexually violent predator” fit for civil commitment. As the civil commitment fad has spread across the country, states have discovered the obvious: that it is expensive to lock people up indefinitely in a prison dressed up as a mental health facility.

PLN has reported on civil commitment issues around the country. This month’s cover story fits squarely into that coverage with little in the way of surprises. Ironically, the costs associated with civil commitment seem to be the main factor in causing it to lose its luster; when push comes to shove, the mantra of “public safety” takes a back seat to fiscal reality.

Unfortunately, prisoners in New York state prisons will not be able to read this month’s issue of PLN, as they have not read the previous 18 issues, because PLN is banned in all New York prisons due to the fact that we accept postage stamps from prisoners as payment for subscriptions and books. We filed suit on October 11 in federal court challenging the ban and hope to resolve this matter so that once again PLN is available to New York prisoners (see related article in this issue of PLN).

The ongoing efforts around the country to censor publications and prevent prisoners from receiving books and magazines – and even letters from loved ones – is a growing problem and one that is keeping Lance Weber, our litigation director, busy and working long hours. Ensuring that prisoners can actually receive our materials is a top priority for us and one which we take very seriously.

By now PLN subscribers should have received our annual fundraiser. Alas, our printer made a mistake printing the letter and has redone and remailed the fundraiser, so most subscribers will receive two fundraisers. We are sorry for the confusion, but please share the flyers with others who may be interested in what we have to offer. If you can afford to make an additional donation above and beyond the cost of a subscription, please do so.
Advertising and subscription income do not cover all our expenses and we rely on your donations to make up the difference. And they make a big difference. Your support makes it possible for us to stand up and fight for the First Amendment rights of publishers and prisoners alike. We are the ONLY publisher in America that regularly challenges prison and jail censorship. No one else is doing it. If you believe in a free press, then this is your chance to support it.

Even if you can’t make a donation yourself please encourage others to subscribe, buy books from us or make a donation. We recently sent out a large sample mailing of the October issue of PLN. Such mailings cost a lot of money for printing and postage as we reach out to new readers. If you know someone who might be interested in our content and coverage, let them know about PLN and encourage them to subscribe. It is easier for readers to reach out to their own social networks than for us to reach out to potential subscribers at random.

I would like to thank all of our readers who send us their verdicts and settlements to report. When you win a prison or jail case, please send us the complaint and the settlement or verdict sheet so we can report it and post the documents on our website.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please make a donation if you can and encourage others to subscribe.

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