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From the Editor

by Paul Wright

This month’s cover story on electronicmonitoring (EM) is reporting relatively modern developments with regards to the technology being used to surveil people. But the premise is as old as mass incarceration itself, going back to the early 1980s. Just as some new “program” is touted as somehow being an “alternative to incarceration,” it gets widely adopted and it then becomes obvious that it is merely a feeder system into prisons and jails. Electronic monitoring, just like parole, probation, boot camps, shock treatment, etc., is not an alternative to incarceration but an alternative form of incarceration.

There is also the financial exploitation aspect as well, which is forcing the surveilled to pay for the privilege of being surveilled. And a lot of the EM has been outsourced to private, for-profit companies, as we have reported previously. Like most aspects of mass incarceration, it continues to grow exponentially with little natural barriers to its continued growth and expansion.

We have a lot going on at the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) for 2023. In addition to publishing Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, HRDC also publishes books, and we have new editions of Protecting Your Health and Safety and The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in production and hopefully ready for release by March at the latest.

Over the past 32 years, HRDC staff and I have been on hundreds, if not thousands, of radio and TV shows. We are finally moving into multimedia and sometime in early 2023 we will be launching a weekly video news show called State of the Police State which will feature the latest news about police and prison abuse, corruption around the country, and interviews with impacted people, lawyers, activists, and more. I will be hosting the show along with John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who was imprisoned for going public with details of the Bush administrations’ torture program against the assorted people captured in its “war on terror.”

We will let readers know when we go live and where shows will be available. We are excited about being able to reach more people through more mediums than the print and online media we are currently using.

I would like to thank everyone who donated to our annual fundraiser and will note it is never too late to donate. Generous donations by all of our readers and supporters allow us to do a lot more advocacy on behalf of prisoners and their families than just publishing magazines.

One of the saddest duties I have as PLN editor is noting the passing of our friends and allies. On November 17, 2022, longtime activist Staughton Lynd, 92, died of multiple organ failure in a hospital in Warren, Ohio. Staughton may not have been a born activist, but he did it for a very long time. He was a conscientious objector and outspoken opponent of the wars in South East Asia in the 1960s and a labor activist as well.

I first met Staughton and his wife, Alice, via mail when they subscribed to PLN and wrote to me in prison. They were living in Youngstown, Ohio, when the state built its biggest supermax prison there as the region deindustrialized. He was a prolific writer and high energy activist protesting the control unit and supporting the prisoners caged there. A vocal opponent of mass incarceration in general and solitary confinement in particular, Staughton will be sorely missed.

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