by Paul Wright
Over the past 27 years we have reported extensively on abuses in local criminal justice systems in the United States, including jails, to the point that they are more ongoing sagas of abuse and corruption that we update with the latest developments. This month’s cover story on the justice system in Cook County, Illinois is no different. Prison Legal News and the Human Rights Defense Center are also suing the Cook County jail for its ban on books and magazines; it should come as no surprise that facilities which routinely violate the 8th and 14th Amendments also have little regard for the First Amendment right to free speech.
If you have experienced delays in your communications with HRDC/PLN in September, we apologize. Hurricane Irma swung by our main office in Lake Worth, Florida and paid us a visit. The good news is that all of our Florida staff are fine and our office was not physically damaged, though we were without electricity for several days and had no Internet or phone service for a week. The post office also was closed and did not deliver mail for almost a week. As this issue goes to press, our office is open again and we are getting caught up.
As mentioned in previous editorials, HRDC is planning to publish a new magazine, Criminal Legal News. We have hired a managing editor, Richard Resch, and are currently busy putting together the first issue. We expect the premiere issue to be published in November, and all PLN subscribers will receive a free sample copy. CLN will cover all aspects of litigation and news around police and prosecutors, including criminal case law, civil rights litigation, parole litigation, sentencing, the death penalty and more.
Initially we will be publishing a 40-page magazine, but expect the page count to grow as more advertisers join. CLN will be covering and reporting the front end of the criminal justice system with a focus on policing and prosecution, while PLN will continue to focus on conditions of confinement, litigation involving prisons and jails, consequences of incarceration, etc. Like most publishing projects, CLN initially will be a work in progress but we have a good idea of what information prisoners, criminal defense attorneys and activists need to better advocate against the police state.
By now PLN subscribers should have received our annual fundraiser, which includes our most recent annual report and some of the news coverage we have garnered over the past year. Publishing PLN is a small part of the work that HRDC carries out every day, every week, every month and every year on behalf of prisoners, their families and the victims of our dysfunctional criminal justice system. For almost three decades, every penny donated to HRDC has gone to improve and expand our operations and increase our capacity for effective advocacy. We receive virtually no funding from foundations; our operating budget comes from magazine subscriptions, advertising, litigation and individual donations from readers like you.
As far as bang for the buck, no other criminal justice organization gets as much done with as little as we do – there is a direct cause and effect between your financial support and what we are able to accomplish on behalf of prisoners. If you believe in the work that HRDC does, whether it’s fighting for the free speech rights of prisoners and publishers, seeking transparency and accountability from the American police state, trying to stop the financial exploitation of prisoners and their families by prison telecom companies and their government collaborators, fighting the private prison industry and much more as detailed in our annual report, then please make a donation and encourage your friends, family and social network to do so as well.
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