by Paul Wright
For all the talk of criminal justice reform. the reality of daily life for millions of caged American prisoners is amply summed up this month’s cover story reprinted from the Texas Observer which reports on the death toll of jail prisoners in Texas. Of course, it is just not Texas where prisoners die from brutality and neglect, it is a daily, national occurrence. As regular PLN readers know, American prisoners die with monotonous regularity from very basic things like starvation, dehydration, hypothermia, lack of medical care and of course violence and self-harm. There tends to be a deafening silence from the ruling class in the U.S. about remedying or stopping this from happening, much less giving prisoners enforceable rights to humane conditions of confinement.
This issue of PLN has several ads from various law firms and organizations, including the Human Rights Defense Center, either seeking information or plaintiffs for class action lawsuits against prison telecom and debit card companies. Note these are different cases with different sets of lawyers. If you are impacted by these practices and wish to get involved please look at the ads closely as they are separate causes of action.
COVID-19 seems to be winding down in prison and out. At least the death toll is decreasing. We are still monitoring COVID related news as it impacts prisons and jails, and will report developments as they occur. Here at HRDC, since the beginning of the year, myself, our two staff attorneys and several other staff have gotten COVID. Fortunately, everyone has recovered none the worse for wear. All of us were vaccinated and boosted which may have helped, as no one had serious symptoms. But it did slow things down a little while people recovered and also worked remotely.
We have been very busy challenging prison and jail censorship practices around the country and that continues to be a major undertaking. If you are a prisoner subscriber and any of your publications from the Human Rights Defense Center are censored (Prison Legal News, Criminal Legal News, the books we distribute), please let us know because prison and jail censors frequently do not tell us they have censored our materials. We closely monitor all documented censorship of our materials to ensure prisoners can receive written publications in the mail.
The most recent book we have published, The PLRA Handbook: Law and Practice Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, by John Boston, continues to be well received. Anyone litigating a prison or jail case impacted by the PLRA needs to get the book. See the ad in this issue for ordering information.
One of the projects we are working on, which was delayed by the pandemic, is launching a weekly news podcast titled State of the Police State which will report on prison, police and criminal justice related news. As soon as the podcast is available we will announce it in PLN.
Enjoy this issue of PLN and please donate to help support our work if you are able to. If you are reading someone else’s copy of PLN, consider subscribing for yourself. I realize money is tight but building our subscriber base helps us keep subscription costs down over the longer term.
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