From the Editor
by Paul Wright
Welcome to the last issue of PLN for 2017. We have had an exciting year with many notable accomplishments. By now everyone on PLN’s mailing list should have received the first issue of Criminal Legal News, and if you are interested in criminal case law, police-related litigation and the front end of the police state that feeds the prison machine then I hope you will subscribe to CLN as well. We expect CLN to grow in size as we build up more advertisers, so we will be bringing readers more news they can use. We are excited that the first issue of CLN has been published as smoothly as it has and I hope PLN readers consider subscribing to CLN.
By now you also should have received HRDC’s fundraiser packet, which provides an overview of our activities for the previous year as well as examples of the media coverage we received. After the fundraiser mailing was sent out we were focusing on launching CLN, as well as ramping up our new public records project, when we were notified on October 23 that the City of Lake Worth, Florida had bought the building where our office is located. The next day the city served all of the tenants, including HRDC, with a 60-day eviction notice. HRDC has 14 employees in our Florida office, which limits the spaces we can use. Since then we have been scrambling to locate new office space.elcome to the last issue of PLN for 2017. We have had an exciting year with many notable accomplishments. By now everyone on PLN’s mailing list should have received the first issue of Criminal Legal News, and if you are interested in criminal case law, police-related litigation and the front end of the police state that feeds the prison machine then I hope you will subscribe to CLN as well. We expect CLN to grow in size as we build up more advertisers, so we will be bringing readers more news they can use. We are excited that the first issue of CLN has been published as smoothly as it has and I hope PLN readers consider subscribing to CLN.
This was totally unexpected and something we had not planned for as our lease did not expire until June 2018 with an extension option. We have been diligent in seeking new office space but one thing became readily apparent: we were getting a really good deal on rent at our current location.
We found a new office about 14 blocks from our current location that has enough space to house all of our staff plus volunteers and interns. That’s the good news. The bad news is our overall expenses are going up by around $1,500 a month, which we had not budgeted for, and we are faced with the unexpected costs of suddenly having to move. Between the expenses of wiring, painting and moving into a new office we are looking at over $8,000 in one-time, unexpected out-of-pocket costs.
We have never had fancy or luxurious office space and I realize that every dollar we spend on things like rent is money not available for our advocacy work. In 27 years this is the first time we have ever asked our supporters for help with logistics. We have weathered earthquakes in Seattle, hurricanes and floods in Vermont and more hurricanes in Florida uneventfully. Alas, we were not expecting the City of Lake Worth to buy our building and evict all the tenants as part of their “redevelopment” plan to create new jobs.
If you can make a donation to help offset the unexpected costs of this move, please do so. We have been busy doing all of our regular day-to-day work while looking for space, getting it ready and then preparing for the actual move itself. We expect to be able to move with minimal disruption but the days are long gone when we could pack up our office in the trunk of a car and drive everything to new digs.
Despite the unexpected developments we continue with our core work. We are still looking for people who have been released from prison or jail and received debit cards where they are charged fees to access their own money. Likewise, people who have been billed $15 or more to accept a single phone call from someone in jail. And anyone who had prepaid telephone or messaging accounts and the money in the account was seized by the provider or otherwise not refunded, or where the provider charged fees for a refund. We are interested in speaking with people who have been victimized by these practices, with the goal of ending them. You can write to HRDC, Attn: SPP, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460, or email email@example.com, or call our Florida office at 561-360-2523 and ask to speak with Kathy Moses. Any documentation that can be provided, such as billing statements or debit card agreements or fee schedules, would be very helpful but is not required.
This month’s cover story is part of our Prison Ecology Project (www.prisonecology.org), which investigates the connections between mass incarceration and environmental degradation. Around the country numerous prisons and jails are sited on or near waste sites, former coal or uranium mines, toxic abandoned military bases and dangerous natural environments. Prisoners, staff and visitors alike are exposed to harmful chemicals, contaminated water, naturally-occurring diseases and the inherent toxicity that occurs when correctional facilities are built on top of landfills, abandoned mines, coal ash dumps, etc. This type of investigative journalism through the Prison Ecology Project is part of our effort to publish more stories nationally to better document the need to close these toxic prisons.
Enjoy this issue of PLN, and please consider subscribing to CLN and making a donation to support our work and help us with our unexpected moving expenses. Best wishes for the holiday season and for a more militant upcoming new year.