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From the Editor

OBSERVANT READERS WILL NOTICE A number of changes in this issue of Prison Legal News. First, we have changed our layout design. It has been well over a decade since we last made significant changes to PLN’s layout, and it was time for a new look. Lansing Scott at Catalytic Communications in Seattle is the graphic designer who designs and formats each issue of PLN for printing. Our goal with the changes is to make each issue an easy and pleasant reading experience, and we welcome feedback on our new look.

The second big change is that we have increased the number of pages in each issue of PLN from 56 to 64. When PLN started publishing in 1990, it consisted of 10 hand-typed pages that were photocopied and stapled. Over the years we have steadily grown in size. Since 2007 we can thank Susan Schwartzkopf, PLN’s advertising director, for our ability to increase the size of the magazine, as her success in finding additional advertisers has enabled us to expand our page count and publish even more news content. PLN has always maintained a commitment to keeping our advertising-to-news content at a 25-to-75% ratio, unlike most publications that have more pages devoted to advertising than to substantive content. If you patronize any of the advertisers in PLN, please let them know where you saw their ad.

The downside of having published PLN for almost 23 years is that in many respects some things change very little. This month’s cover story about the Los Angeles County jail system being a cesspool of violence, abuse and corruption is nothing new. This is at least the third major story we have run on jails in Los Angeles, not counting dozens of other, shorter articles. Despite decades of litigation, court-ordered injunctions and monitoring, the nation’s largest jail system has continued to engage in massive, unconstitutional human rights violations.

This is a textbook example of the lack of oversight and accountability in our nation’s criminal justice system, where both the legislative and executive branches have shown a total lack of political will or interest in operating prisons and jails in a constitutional and humane manner. Instead, abuses such as those in Los Angeles jails have left the federal judiciary with the unenviable task of trying to enforce minimal constitutional standards – and even after decades, as this issue’s cover story notes, the results are less than optimal. I am not optimistic that this will be our last story about problems in the Los Angeles County jail system.

Readers have continued to send their condolences over the death of my father, Rollin Wright, who served as PLN’s former publisher. Everyone at PLN has greatly
appreciated these letters and the time people have taken to write them. Especially heartening have been the readers who recalled corresponding with my father in the early 1990s, when PLN was in its infancy. We extend our thanks to everyone who has written.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and let us know what you think about the new design changes. And, as always, please en-courage others to subscribe.

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