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Articles by Paul Wright

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Anyone who has been arrested by the federal government can attest to the experience of being held in custody by the U.S. Marshals Service. While the federal Bureau of Prisons operates a few pretrial detention centers (aka jails) in large cities, the vast majority of federal defendants ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

This month’s cover story reports onWellpath, formerly known as Correct Care Solutions, a hedge fund-owned private prison health care company. PLN has long reported on prison medical care in general and privatized care in particular, with what is now a lengthy history of medical neglect, deaths, maimings ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

I want to thank everyone who has donated to HRDC’s annual fundraiser. Of course, anytime is a good time to donate and we are always in need of funding and support, not just at the end of the year. I would like to encourage readers to become ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

In 1994, President Clinton ended Pell grant eligibility for prisoners in legislation spearheaded by then-senator, and now presidential candidate, Joe Biden. That pretty much signaled the end of what little higher education existed in U.S. prisons, as state legislatures quickly followed suit to terminate whatever modest state funding had been available for prison college programs. The days of prisoners being able to earn degrees, with a few exceptions, became a thing of the past.

But even basic education like GEDs and vocational certificates became harder to obtain as well. Not surprisingly, with the exception of Texas, states in the Deep South, which already had the highest levels of illiteracy outside of prison, quickly raced to the bottom and have remained there ever since. As this issue’s cover story about the dearth of education in Florida’s medieval prison system shows, very little educational opportunities exist for prisoners in that state. Alas, Florida prisoners will not be able to read about it, both due to high levels of illiteracy resulting from a lack of educational programs and also because the Florida DOC continues to censor all issues of Prison Legal News statewide.

This issue of PLN is dedicated to ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

I am excited to report that The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct, by former HRDC staff attorney Alissa Hull, is now available for purchase and shipping. Building on the success and popularity of The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel,this book provides clear, concise information needed to challenge criminal convictions procured by unscrupulous prosecutors. Ordering information is included in this issue of PLN. This book is the perfect holiday gift for the pro se prisoner litigant as well as the experienced attorney who does post-conviction litigation; it provides a 50-state review of case law as well as federal citations. A big thanks to everyone at HRDC who worked on getting it to press.

By now all PLN subscribers should have received our annual fundraiser packet; if you have not donated yet, please do so! We rely on your support to help fund our advocacy and litigation around issues as diverse as prison telephone rates, education for prisoners, felon disenfranchisement, censorship by prison and jail officials, and much more. Please encourage others to donate as well, or to subscribe to Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News.

Every dollar donated to HRDC helps build our ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

For the past 29 years, HRDC has been reporting on the myriad problems in California prisons and the class-action lawsuits that have led to wholesale transformations of the criminal justice system in that state. The most significant prison conditions case of the 21st century is Plata v. Brown, where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an order to lower California’s prison population after the trial court found that overcrowding had made the provision of adequate medical care functionally impossible, resulting in preventable deaths. While the state successfully managed to reduce its prison population, prisoners were not released but rather “realigned” and sent to county jails to serve often lengthy sentences.

California jails were hardly the model of well-run facilities before realignment increased their populations, and all too often were more dangerous and poorly run, and medical care was even more inadequate than in state prisons. This issue’s cover story explores the impact of realignment on county jails. Of course, none of this is new. PLN has been reporting for decades on deadly violence and corruption in jails in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Orange County and elsewhere in California. Realignment merely exacerbated conditions that were already bad and ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

For at least the past 50 years, the U.S. government has purported to wage a war on poor drug users. Poor people who used drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana were duly arrested, prosecuted, convicted, caged and even killed in vast numbers – yet with each ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

Prison Legal News has long reported on control units in general and the federal “super max” prisons in particular, first USP Marion in Illinois and then ADX in Florence, Colorado after it opened in 1995. Many of the worst human rights abuses in American prisons occur ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

This month’s cover story about prison education seems like a well-worn but broken record. In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which, as I noted at the time, was the biggest foray by the federal government into so-called anti-crime legislation ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

This month’s issue of PLN is dedicated to the memory and work of Randall “Randy” Berg, a long-time advocate for prisoners’ rights and human rights who died on April 10, 2019 at the age of 70 following a struggle with ALS. I was fortunate to be able to interview Randy at length on his final day at work in December 2018, and believe that was the last interview he gave. I attended his memorial service, which was packed with friends and colleagues.

Randy was one of PLN’s earliest subscribers in the early 1990s, when we were still focused mostly on news and events in Washington State. He represented us when the Florida DOC censored PLN between 2003 and 2005, and again in a second round of censorship litigation between 2009 and 2019. I corresponded with Randy while I was in prison and then met him once I was released. I hope my interview does justice to his career and his lifelong commitment to advocating for prisoners and other marginalized populations.

I had originally planned to publish this interview at some later point when Florida prisoners would be able to read it, since the Florida ...