PLN will continue to report on COVID and its impacts on prisoners and detainees. While much of the injunctive relief class actions pertaining to COVID are either over or effectively moot, the damages cases for the legions of prisoners who died from medical neglect due to COVID seem to only now just be starting to get filed and we will be reporting on those cases for years to come. We will begin shifting our news coverage back to the topics we have generally covered, ranging from brutality, corruption, medical neglect, sexual assault, censorship, good time, etc.
This month’s cover story on prison contraband was originally slated to run on the cover of the April, 2020 issue of PLN but that changed as COVID began to take hold. The story has been updated and despite the pandemic, with visiting suspended at nearly all prisons and jails, staff and guards continued to avail themselves of the opportunity to smuggle contraband into prisons and jails. A lot of other things did not stop during the pandemic either and we will be reporting on those as well in upcoming issues
I have been editing PLN since the very first issue was published in 1990. Over the past 30 years there have been news trends and stories and themes that come and go. A common theme is that of politicians exploiting prisoners and being “tough on crime” and otherwise trying to have it both ways. This month’s article by former PLN editor Ken Silverstein reporting on private prison lobbyist Casey Sixkiller running for mayor of Seattle while pretending to be “progressive” brought a profound sense of déjà vu all over again. Ken and I first met back in 1994 when I was imprisoned at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, Washington. Prisoners at the facility were being used by a telemarketing firm to “get out the vote” for Jack Metcalf, a Republican running on a “tough on crime” platform for the U.S. congress in Washington. Before the election the story got no media interest. A few days after the election though Ken broke the story in Counterpunch, a magazine he was editing at the time, and it also broke in The Stranger, a Seattle alternative weekly newspaper.
Now we have a candidate running for mayor who has spent his career as a lobbyist for the private prison industry. Amazingly, this has been totally ignored by media until PLN broke the story online in June. As long-time readers of PLN know, we rarely report on candidates in political races besides presidential elections and even then, usually just to note their positions and track records on criminal justice issues, which since we started publishing in 1990 have all been bad. Normally we would not report on a mayoral race, but spending a decade lobbying for private prison companies and then running for office claiming to be “progressive” is a bit much. Not surprisingly, there are also the ethical question: is he holding a high-paying government position while still running a lobbying company across the country?
The mayoral primary election in Seattle is in August so we will know soon enough how Sixkiller’s campaign goes. I am curious to find out if Seattle voters think that a lobbyist who shills for private prisons, arms makers, oil companies and even CIA clandestine airlines qualifies as “progressive” and “liberal.” We will report the outcome of the election when it happens.
We have added a number of new books to our book list on the back pages of PLN and CLN. This includes the Federal Prison Handbook and the Directory of Federal Prisons by Chris Zoukis. Please check them out. We are also in the process of publishing a number of new titles that will be of interest to readers.
For readers who are new to PLN and are taking advantage of our introductory offer, please renew your subscription at the regular rate as soon as, or ideally before, you receive your renewal notice as it saves us money and staff time to do so. Please consider multi-year renewals to save even more on your subscription costs. We will only be running the introductory promotion for a limited time.
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