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From the Editor

This month’s cover story on the bail bonding industry focuses on one of the lesser discussed but equally important economic players in the U.S. prison industrial complex. One of the main causes of jail overcrowding in many local jurisdictions tends not to be mundane things like crime but rather bail practices – and as with the rest of our nation’s criminal justice system, the burden and expense fall disproportionately on the backs of the poor.

Many pretrial detainees languish in jail, presumption of innocence be damned, simply because they cannot afford to post bail even in small amounts. The Justice Policy Institute recently issued several detailed reports on the bail bonding industry that formed the basis for this month’s cover story. The bail bonding industry, which is almost totally unregulated, exists exclusively to profit from the criminalization of poverty at the expense of everyone else. As the need for criminal justice reform becomes even more urgent there is equally a need to question the involvement of the many parasitic businesses that profit from mass incarceration. These include private prisons, prison phone companies and, yes, bail bondsmen.

PLN readers should have received our annual fundraiser letter by now. Unlike many non-profits, we do not bombard our readers with endless pleas for donations. Rather, we do one end-of-the-year fundraiser to ask for your support be-cause our income from subscriptions, book sales and advertising revenue does not cover all of our operational costs.

This year we are asking for your support to help fund the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice. We are close to get-ting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to cap the rates for interstate prison phone calls, but need to keep the pressure on them. Thus, this year’s annual fundraiser asks for two things: that you contact the FCC and ask them to act on the Wright petition (see the ad on page 39 for details on how to do this), and to make a donation to help cover the expenses of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice.

This is very much a case where you as an individual can make a difference, first by writing to the FCC and telling them how you and your family have been negatively affected by the high cost of prison phone calls; second, by making a donation to PLN to help us cover the costs of staffing the campaign; and lastly by encouraging your friends and family members to contact the FCC and make donations, too. Every letter and every contribution helps. Our goal for this year’s annual fundraiser is $60,000 to cover our end of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice through 2013.

As the holidays approach, a subscription to PLN or some of the books we distribute make the perfect gift for someone who has everything or the person in prison who can receive virtually nothing. We have added a number of new titles to PLN’s book store, so please be sure to review our book list on pages 53 and 54 of this issue of PLN. The book list did not run in last month’s issue and we apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused.
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