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From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Deaths in jails are all too common in the United States, especially from medical neglect and untreated injuries. They are also usually ignored, as jails have even less oversight than state or federal prisons. Systemic patterns of jail deaths are nothing new, but the occasional media inquiry into them is.

This month’s cover story by the Seattle Met is a good example of what happens in county lockups in every state. Reports like this expose the dramatic need for litigation at the local level to help ensure minimal standards of medical care for jail detainees given the total lack of political will and interest by sheriffs and county officials. Kudos to the Seattle Met for a great investigative piece and for allowing us to reprint it.

We are gearing up for a busy summer here at the Human Rights Defense Center, with an active litigation docket, numerous journalism projects and a record number of interns preparing to spend the summer working on prisoner rights-related issues. Our latest monthly publication, Criminal Legal News, continues to grow and just published its sixth issue with a circulation of almost 1,000 subscribers. If you are interested in policing, sentencing issues and criminal law and procedure, you should subscribe to CLN as well as Prison Legal News. We are also working on a new Habeas Citebook title dealing with prosecutorial misconduct, which we hope to have ready for sale by the end of summer.

Readers who have been with us a long time will remember when we were an all-volunteer organization and only published PLN. We have now grown to 19 full-time employees, which include four attorneys and three paralegals, two magazine editors, an investigative reporter and a social media director, whose jobs are to advocate for criminal justice reform and the rights of prisoners and their families. We have seen steady growth over the past 28 years, yet the more we do the greater the need for our work, and the more opposition we receive from prison and jail officials.

Support from readers like you is what has allowed us to grow and expand the size, scope and complexity of the projects we undertake, in terms of advocacy, publishing and litigation. If you can afford to make a donation to support our work, please do so. It is sorely needed and it makes a difference, as we receive almost no foundation funding. Other ways that readers can help is by subscribing to PLN or CLN if you are reading someone else’s copy, and encouraging others to subscribe. No one else delivers the high-quality criminal justice news that we do.

You can also buy books from our book store – see pages 69-70. And if you patronize PLN and CLN advertisers, be sure to tell them where you saw their ads so they know their ads are working! The more advertisers we have, the more news and information we can bring our readers since our ad revenue subsidizes our publishing costs.

Enjoy this issue of PLN! 


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