From the Editor
by Paul Wright
This month’s issue of Prison Legal News marks 24 years and 284 issues, which makes PLN the longest continuously-published prisoners’ rights publication in U.S. history. We have grown significantly from a ten-page, hand-typed newsletter to our current 64-page magazine format. While some things have changed over the years others have remained constant, such as continuing to bring our readers high quality news and legal information they can use to help themselves and advocate for the rights of prisoners.
Another constant, which continues to distract us from our publishing work, is the ongoing government censorship of PLN and the books we distribute. The first three issues of PLN were banned in all Washington State prisons when we first began publishing in 1990. Today we have been banned in the state of Florida since 2009 – which is the subject of pending litigation – and have filed suit against the Nevada DOC for censoring PLN’s books.
In addition to prison systems, many jails around the country ban all books and magazines and even letter correspondence from PLN to prisoners. We currently have three staff attorneys and two paralegals whose primary mission is to simply ensure that prisoners can receive PLN and the books we distribute. Perhaps someday I will live in a country that respects freedom of speech and the notion of an independent media, but I think Iceland is too cold.
Likewise, we continue to meet resistance from government agencies when we submit public records requests, and have to file lawsuits to obtain documents pertaining to prisons and jails. Such records are in theory public but in reality remain shrouded in secrecy.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped make PLN possible over the years: our subscribers, donors, supporters, volunteers, employees, attorneys and many others who at this point are far too numerous to name. As we approach our 25th year of publishing, we plan to expand our circulation and ask for your help in doing so. Greater circulation ensures that we keep our subscription costs down and also widens the impact we have. If you know someone who might be interested in PLN, whether imprisoned or not, please ask them to subscribe.
Further, expanding the number of our advertisers allows us to bring you even more news and legal content, as more advertisers lets us increase our page count. If you do business with companies that are interested in reaching an incarcerated audience, let them know about PLN and tell them to contact us. If you patronize companies that advertise in PLN, let them know where you saw their ad and ask them to continue advertising.
Lastly, we try not to make mistakes in PLN, but we correct them when we do. Last month’s cover story interview with Noam Chomsky stated that Professor Chomsky is 75 years old. He is actually 85.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to subscribe.
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