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From the Editor

As summer wears on, the pandemic continues to take its toll behind bars. Our cover story reports the latest developments on COVID-19 in prisons and jails. Thanks to all the prisoner readers who are sending us reports and updates about coronavirus in their facilities. We are especially interested in learning about serious illnesses and deaths as those are numbers likely to be concealed or underplayed by the government.

It appears likely that COVID-19 will be with us, in prison and out, for the foreseeable future and the political class in this country has deemed prisoners, especially convicted ones, to be expendable. To date, very little in the way of prison releases or other measures to ensure safety are happening. We are monitoring all the litigation and political and news developments around the country and will continue reporting on them in PLN. Dr. Michael Cohen continues providing us with the latest medical information related to COVID-19 in detention facilities and discussing treatment and prevention options.

We will be covering COVID-19 in PLN as long as it remains a prison health and litigation issue. We are also aware that all the other issues around detention facilities, such as excessive force, censorship, slave labor and more have not gone away or improved, so we will continue to report on those as well. The news cycle is very much dominated by coronavirus and our news coverage is reflecting that.

COVID-19 has had serious impacts on everyone outside of prison as well. HRDC is no exception. Most of our staff are working remotely but we still have a few people in our office to process subscriptions, ship book orders, answer the phones and respond to emails. We are still getting everything done in a timely manner, we are just having to work harder to do so. Thanks to all of our readers and supporters who have inquired about the health and wellbeing of our staff.

By now everyone who was an active PLN subscriber for the July issue should have received a free sample copy of Criminal Legal News (CLN). CLN is the companion publication to PLN and reports on policing, sentencing, criminal law and procedure, and surveillance issues. We launched CLN in 2017 to expand our coverage and reporting on the American police state and especially to give prisoners more information on criminal law and procedure tobe able to better challenge their convictions and sentences. If criminal law and policing issues are of interest, you should subscribe to CLNCLN and PLN mail at two-week intervals with CLN going to press the 15th of each month and PLN going to press around the 1st.

We have added many new subscribers, thanks to our $1 COVID-19 introductory subscription offer. That offer is only available to prisoners who have never been PLN subscribers before and does not apply to renewals. I hope that once the six-issue trial subscription expires our new subscribers will continue their subscriptions at the regular rate. 

PLN is the only publication reporting on legal news and developments affecting prisoners, and giving them information they can actually use. Please encourage others to subscribe as well. The more subscribers we have, the lower our per-issue costs, and the lower we can keep our subscription rates in a world of rising postage, printing and staffing costs.

As this issue goes to press we have just sued the Indiana DOC over its censorship of PLN. The Human Rights Defense Center remains the only publisher that consistently steps up to the plate to challenge the censorship of books and magazines. We currently have litigation pending against prison systems in Arizona, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. We are also suing jails over their censorship practices in Virginia, Arkansas, Maryland and California. Several more lawsuits are in the process of being filed. We will report on this in PLN as the cases proceed. DespiteCOVID-19, our stellar litigation team is continuing to fight for free speech rights around the country.