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Articles by Dan Pens

From the Editor

Greetings and welcome to another issue of PLN . Several readers have pointed out that PLN editorials are needlessly long. Naturally, my feelings were bruised. The truth hurts. From now on, though, the limit on PLN editorials is 500 words (a half-page) rather than 1,000.

So maybe I should get ...

Education as Crime Prevention: Providing Education to Prisoners

I lost count of the number of people who have written me to ask if I know where they can find statistics on the impact of prison-based education programs on recidivism. After congress eliminated Pell grants for prisoners in 1994, resulting in deep cuts in prison education programs, this question ...

TCI Breaks 'Inmate Telephone System' Stranglehold

By now you've seen the Tele-Con, Inc. (TCI) ads in Prison Legal News . I first heard of TCI in June, 1997, when a PLN reader sent me one of their brochures. Collect calls from prisoners billed at 10¢ a minute? Yeah, right. This sounded WAY too good to be ...

Massachusetts Prisoner PAC Assailed by Governor, DOC

In mid-August, Acting Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci personally directed prison guards to conduct a shakedown of several state prisons. And what contraband were the guards instructed to root out? Weapons? Drugs? No, something much more sinister and threatening to public safety -- voter registration cards! Campaign literature!

Massachusetts is one of ...

From the Editor

Greetings and welcome to another issue. Last May, PLN received two $10,000 grants to use for outreach mailings of sample issues to attract new subscribers. From May through November we printed and mailed an average of 7,000 extra copies per month. The resulting new subscription orders have not ...

Restoring Justice

Over the years, countless people have asked me The Question. People who have never been imprisoned (and who think my 16 years behind bars makes me an expert) are especially prone to ask it.

"You seem to be very well informed about criminal justice issues," The Question usually begins, "how ...

Editorial

In the July 11 "Living Arts" section of the New York Times, appears a feature titled, 'For a Summer Getaway, a Model Prison." It is a personal narrative of NYT reporter Judith H. Dobrzynski's visit to Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Eastern State, built in the 1820's, was ...

Georgia Prison Guards Speak Out

Shortly after Wayne Garner took over as Georgia's Corrections Commissioner in December 1995, he addressed the state legislature wherein he quipped, "...thirty to thirty-five percent [of GA prisoners] ain't fit to kill, and I'm going to be there to accommodate them." [See: "Georgia Prisons Enter the Dark ...

Vacant Judgeships Cripple Federal Judiciary

The administration of federal justice is being slowly strangled by politics. A political face-off between a republican-dominated U.S. senate judiciary committee and a spineless democratic president is choking the federal courts.

There are 98 unfilled judgeships in federal courts nationwide out of 844 positions, a 12 percent vacancy rate ...

Supreme Court Upholds Kansas Civil Commitment Law

In a chilling 5-4 ruling, the U.S. supreme court reversed a Kansas supreme court which invalidated the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act after holding that the Act ("civil commitment" of "sexually violent predators" who suffer from a "mental abnormality" or 'personality disorder") violates substantive due process by thinly disguising ...