From the Editor
by Paul Wright
Welcome to the first issue of PLN for 2018. By the time you read this we should be moved into our new office in Florida. I would like to thank everyone who donated to help us with the unexpected expense of a sudden eviction by the City of Lake Worth; we will post pictures of the new office on our website once we get situated. That being said, our expenses are going up significantly since commercial rents have increased in Florida over the past 4 years. The move should not affect our publication schedule, but it might impact book orders. We will do our best to keep any disruptions to a minimum.
It is not too late to donate to our annual fundraiser! We are still trying to raise $75,000 in order to hire a full-time investigative reporter to cover criminal justice issues that the mainstream media isn’t reporting. If you can afford to make a tax-deductible donation towards that goal, please do so.
The only issue as old as the United States is that of slavery, and this month’s cover story explores one of the latest nuances of prison slave labor whereby criminal defendants are forced to work in atrocious conditions in chicken processing factories for little or no pay under the threat of being sent to prison if they do not. If you or someone you know has been subjected to this type of forced labor, please contact PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann at Prison Legal News, Attn: Chicken plants, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460, or at email@example.com.
PLN has reported on prison slave labor since our first issue was published in May 1990, and sadly it continues to be an issue today with pretty much every single elected official in America staunchly supporting penal slavery. Recently, the assistant to a U.S. Senator asked me what could be done to make prison labor fair and unobjectionable to the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), PLN’s parent organization. My response was to 1) pay prisoners the prevailing wage for their work and 2) let them actually keep their earnings subject to the same taxes that all Americans pay.
Everyone who was a PLN subscriber at the time we published the November issue of PLN should have received a free sample copy of Criminal Legal News, our new monthly publication. I am pleased to say that CLN has received a very enthusiastic reception from subscribers and advertisers alike – so enthusiastic that after only two issues we plan to expand the page count from 40 to 48 pages, to bring readers even more news and information about policing and criminal law. I would like to thank everyone who has subscribed. Going forward, each issue of PLN will carry an ad for CLN and vice versa. I hope that everybody subscribes to both magazines so they have total coverage of all aspects of the criminal justice system.
With the new year just beginning, we plan to continue ramping up our prison and jail news coverage in PLN as well as our campaigns around environmentally toxic prisons and our Stop Prison Profiteering campaign. We are still looking for people who have had fee-laden debit cards foisted on them after being released from prison or jail, anyone who has had their money seized from a telephone account due to inactivity or other reasons and anyone who has paid $15 or more to receive a single phone call from a correctional facility. Please contact us with your stories and details if you have been personally affected by any of these issues.
On the litigation front, we continue filing and pursuing First Amendment and public records cases, and HRDC currently has two class-action lawsuits pending against release debit card companies. Our docket is national, with suits pending from California to Florida and from Oregon to North Carolina.
Enjoy this issue and please encourage others to subscribe to both PLN and CLN. We wish you a happy and productive new year!