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Articles by Paul Wright

From the Editor

HRDC's GivingTuesday Request

Dear Human Rights Supporter,

As we end 2020, the Covid pandemic is ravaging our nation’s prisons and jails with no end in sight. Even as vaccines are being approved to inoculate people against Covid, government agencies are announcing that the staff but not the prisoners, will be the priority in receiving these vaccines in detention facilities. For the past 9 months we have prioritized Covid coverage in our publications and made litigation to get prisoners access to our publications a top priority as it gains life or death importance. Since February, our hard working legal team working with law firms around the country has filed 10 censorship lawsuits against prisons and jails from Maryland to California to protect the free speech rights of publishers and prisoners alike.

HRDC has faced enormous organizational challenges to meet an increased demand for our services while dealing with the realities of remote work and limited office time to get everything done. Right now, we have letters from over 1,000 indigent prisoners requesting 6 issue subscriptions to Prison Legal News so they will have accurate timely information about Covid and how it impacts prisoners. It costs us a little more than $15 to provide a ...

From the Editor

Welcome to the last issue of PLN for 2020. It has been an eventful year that no one expected or planned for in January. Two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have announced vaccines for COVID-19 claiming effectiveness rates of over 90%. So far, we have seen nothing about plans to ensure that prisoners receive access to vaccines. Our ruling class must be struggling with the quandary of whether to vaccinate prisoners first and see how well the vaccines work or leave prisoners last to ensure higher priority Americans get vaccinated first. We will report what happens.

Since the pandemic first started, our readers have been sending us updates and news developments about COVID-19 in the facilities they or their loved ones are imprisoned in. Please continue sending us your news and updates. As winter sets in, COVID-19 rates are likely to rise both inside and outside of prisons and jails, and we are likely to see even higher mortality rates. As we report, very few states are releasing convicted prisoners due to COVID-19 concerns, and prisoners are for the most part being left locked in cages with the government hoping not too many die.

By now all PLN subscribers should have ...

Milestone: Thirty Years of Prison Legal News and the Human Rights Defense Center

Instead, we will do a national virtual event on December 10 to mark both International Human Rights Day and our 30th anniversary. Yale law professor and author James Forman Jr. will be our keynote speaker. Details on the event and how to attend virtually are inside this issue.

When I started PLN in 1990 I was 25 years old and three years into a life sentence. The United States had a million people locked in cages. Today, I am 55 years old and have been out of prison for 17 years, and the United States has around 2.5 million people locked in cages. In addition to having a lot more prisoners, living conditions, by every ...

From the Editor

While we cannot do an in-person event this year as we had planned, a virtual event allows us to reach our supporters and lets more people know about the Human Rights Defense Center’s history in ways that doing events tied to a city do not. Author and activist Victoria Law will be the master of ceremonies for the event and Yale Law Professor James Forman Jr. will be our keynote speaker. I will be speaking at the event as well. If you do not ...

From the Editor

We seem to be settling in for the long haul on COVID in American prisons and jails. The big takeaway is that the government’s attitude is to pretty much keep everyone locked up and hope for the best, and if a bunch of prisoners die, it’s not that big of a deal. The number of state and federal prisoners who have been released due to COVID concerns is ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

COVID-19 has not gone away; indeed it seems to be worsening in prisons and jails around the country. But this month’s cover story on prisons in Iceland serves as a reminder that not all countries have, or want, a police state that cages one percent of its ...

From the Editor

As summer wears on, the pandemic continues to take its toll behind bars. Our cover story reports the latest developments on COVID-19 in prisons and jails. Thanks to all the prisoner readers who are sending us reports and updates about coronavirus in their facilities. We are especially ...

From the Editor

by Paul Wright

With COVID-19 still dominating prison and jail related news, it is worth keeping in mind that detention conditions did not miraculously improve because of a pandemic. Rather, already bad conditions have gotten steadily worse, inadequate and negligent medical care systems have been overtaxed, and their already limited ...

From the Editor

It seems like an eternity since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S. in January of this year and the first deaths began occurring in March. Now, each day brings grim news for American prisoners. Everyone I know in the prisoner rights community is working long, hard hours ...