From the Editor
by Paul Wright
Over the past 24 years PLN has reported extensively on the structural dynamics of the American police state, which have resulted in the imprisonment of over 2.3 million people on any given day. Critical to mass incarceration is a quick assembly-line judicial process with little regard to whatever nominal rights people may have under various constitutions or statutes.
Thus, for mass incarceration to be successful, poor defendants need to be deprived of effective legal counsel; crime labs need to be dedicated to producing evidence that results in convictions and not engaged in independent scientific endeavors; the judiciary must be compliant with and complicit in the goal of obtaining convictions at any cost; and prosecutors have to be allowed to do whatever they feel is necessary to win cases. Which is essentially how the U.S. criminal justice system operates.
As anyone who observes our justice system knows, prosecutorial misconduct is rampant, pervasive and goes relatively unpunished; presumably, if abuses by prosecutors were adequately reported and sanctioned, they would be a rarity. Yet courts continue to find misconduct on a disturbingly regular basis. As this month’s cover story makes clear, this is a systemic problem that requires systemic solutions.
On October 22, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission issued a second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on reforms to Inmate Calling Services (ICS). PLN co-founded the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice in 2011 and has pressured the FCC to regulate the high cost of prison phone calls. Beginning last year, they finally started doing so.
We need your help to get the FCC to implement meaningful ICS reforms by capping the cost of intrastate (in-state) prison and jail phone calls, as well as eliminating “commission” kickbacks to corrections agencies and ancillary fees. See the ad on p.2 for what you and your family can do to support the Campaign.
One way to help is to make a donation to Prison Legal News and the Human Rights Defense Center, the non-profit organization that publishes PLN. For the past three years we have dedicated all our fundraising to the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, to achieve ICS reforms and regulation. We are the only organization submitting detailed information and hard data to the FCC on the actual cost of prison phone calls and commission kickbacks.
Collecting, analyzing and making this information publicly available is extremely time consuming and expensive. The few modest grants we received to help start the Campaign ran out long ago and we urgently need your support to continue the struggle for prison phone justice. All of your donations, no matter how large or small, will be used to further our advocacy efforts.
To learn more about prison phone justice, visit www.prisonphonejustice.org, which contains the phone contracts, rates and commission data for the prison systems in all 50 states, the federal Bureau of Prisons and a number of jails. To get involved in the Campaign, visit www.phonejustice.org, or for our Washington State campaign, www.wappj.org.
If you believe prisoners and their families should not be price-gouged and exploited by greedy telecom companies and their government allies, then please make a donation to help end these egregious practices. If you benefited from the FCC’s cap on interstate prison and jail phone rates, then please consider donating the money you saved so we can finish the fight and cap the rates for in-state calls, too.
All PLN subscribers will soon receive our annual fundraiser letter, which will give our readers a better idea of what we do on behalf of prisoners and their families. You can donate to support our work by mailing a check or money order, or by phone or online using a credit card. Please encourage others to donate as well.
You can also purchase gift subscriptions to PLN individually or in bulk through our Subscription Madness campaign. See the ad on p.31 for details.
Since we re-launched Subscription Madness, which allows the discounted purchase of multiple gift subscriptions for people who have never been a PLN subscriber before, we have received some complaints from long-time subscribers because the discount is not available for renewals. The purpose of Subscription Madness is to grow our subscriber base so we can keep our costs down; we hope that after reading PLN for a year, new subscribers will want to renew at our regular subscription rates.
We spend a lot of time and resources on expanding our subscriber base, and with Subscription Madness we pass along the savings of not having to mail sample copies to potential subscribers by not increasing our rates. But the Subscription Madness promotion is not intended to be a slight to our long-time subscribers, to whom we offer other benefits for multi-year renewals, including free books or extra issues of PLN.
Lastly, with the holiday season approaching, consider giving friends and loved ones a gift subscription to PLN or some of the many books we distribute. Our next self-published title, the Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual by Dan Manville, is currently in production and will be available soon. You can order it now for $49.95, shipping included – see the ad on p.11.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please encourage others to donate and subscribe.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login