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HRDC 2014 Fundraiser Letter Final

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Dear Human Rights Defender,
I’m writing to you because I think you understand that securing basic human rights has always hinged
on the success of daily battles for civil liberties and human dignity. I think you would also agree that
human rights and civil liberties are only truly present when they are available to all people, especially
the most vulnerable among us.
I founded the Human Rights Defense Center and our monthly
magazine, Prison Legal News, on these principles, and as a
result the organization has focused its efforts on responding to
the constant flow of injustices stemming from America’s jails
and prisons.
As the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The degree
of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its
prisons.” That doesn’t bode well for this country, where we
have 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s
With more than 2.4 million people in U.S. prisons, jails and
other detention facilities, and approximately another 5 million
on probation or parole, this country has been faced with an
unprecedented rate of mass incarceration, the likes of
which the world has never seen. It is what some have called a
“Nation Inside”— others have called it “The New Jim Crow.”

Fill out the attached slip to receive a sample
issue of PLN!

More than 60 percent of prisoners in the Nation Inside identify as African American or Latino men,
despite those demographics making up only 15 percent of the male population in the U.S.

It is difficult to overstate the impact of institutional
racism and classism in the criminal justice system. At
every step of the way, from policing, prosecution,
sentencing and conditions of confinement to parole and
conditions of release, followed by access to housing,
jobs, the ability to vote and access to public services,
the weight of the police state falls most heavily on
minorities and the poor and disadvantaged.
In light of this, we have decided to expand our work in
the southern states, including a relocation of our main
office to Florida—a mass incarceration state and a
stronghold of the private prison industry—and the filing
of First Amendment-related lawsuits in states like
Georgia and Louisiana, where far-right conservative
judges have presented a greater challenge to securing
human rights for prisoners.

PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann with ACLU staff
and co-counsel at a press conference announcing a
lawsuit over a Hawaiian prisoner's death at a CCA-run
private prison in Arizona.

I founded HRDC in 1990 in Clallam Bay, Washington when we published the first issue of Prison Legal
News. Since then, the organization has been on the forefront of struggles to protect the free speech rights
of prisoners and bring transparency to the Department of Corrections in Washington, the most secretive
of state agencies. Our ground-breaking journalism has included stories on how Microsoft, Boeing,
Nintendo, Eddie Bauer and other companies in the Pacific Northwest, as well as former Congressman
Jack Metcalf, all used prison slave labor to make a buck or get elected.
I have been a human rights activist and organizer since 1988. Having done this work over the past two
decades, I realize there are critical times when a little extra effort will make a huge difference. That’s
why we’re reaching out to you for your urgent support in the year ahead.
HRDC has been called “The best civil rights and social justice organization you never heard of.”
But we don’t want you to stay in the dark about us any longer. In these pages you will find our 2013
Annual Report detailing what we have been able to accomplish with support from people like you.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Keep reading and you will find several recent articles from
across the country—from prominent journalists to local small-town papers—that describe our work.
We also want to tell you a little about some exciting successes we have already had this year.
Thus far in 2014, our accomplishments include HRDC’s crucial involvement in:

The FCC’s long-awaited decision to reduce exorbitant prison phone rates
Winning the first court case to strike down a jail’s postcard-only mail policy
Working to end discrimination against former prisoners in jobs, housing and education

Further, HRDC and Prison Legal News (PLN) successfully ended unconstitutional censorship practices
by jails in Ventura County, California; Lewis County, Washington; Comal County, Texas; Kenosha
County, Wisconsin; and St. Lucie County, Florida, and we filed suit challenging illegal censorship by

the San Diego County Sheriff. Plus we continued litigating censorship cases against jails in Arizona,
Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Michigan.
PLN also won public records cases against Corrections Corporation of America in Texas and Vermont,
in an effort to bring the private prison
industry under state public records laws. In
both cases, the courts agreed with our position
that CCA was a government actor for public
records purposes and the company could not
hide behind its private corporate status to
claim otherwise. In both cases CCA
capitulated and chose not to appeal.
This year, a federal district court in Kentucky
also unsealed a confidential settlement
between CCA and its employees who were
underpaid, after PLN filed a motion to
intervene in the case.
HRDC and PLN continue to be in the
forefront of cutting-edge First Amendment, free speech and public records litigation around the country,
bringing lawsuits against prisons and jails that no one else is filing. And we are winning!
In addition to our core litigation around First Amendment and public records laws, HRDC also
successfully litigates impact cases involving the deaths of prisoners.
Earlier this year, HRDC settled the wrongful death case of a 26-year-old Hispanic prisoner in
Washington State who died of flesh-eating bacteria after prison medical staff ignored his pleas for help.
HRDC also filed complaints with state regulatory authorities against the medical staff involved in his
death. The settlement we obtained for the family in that case is among the highest in Washington State
history involving the death of a prisoner.
HRDC also settled a case on behalf of an African American former prisoner who was 18 years old and
five months pregnant while in a jail run by the private prison contractor Corrections Corporation of
America (CCA) in Tennessee, when she began to suffer severe cramps and bleeding. Rather than
transport her immediately to a hospital, CCA staff left her alone, bleeding and pleading for help in a cell
for hours. She gave birth prematurely at the hospital and her baby died shortly afterwards. Following
several years of hard-fought litigation, CCA agreed to settle the lawsuit over her pain and suffering and
the death of her child. The court also entered sanctions against CCA.
These cases highlight the aim of all HRDC litigation. We have a media and political strategy of seeking
prison reform and highlighting the injustices and problems in the U.S. criminal justice system, while
advocating for systemic change to ensure prisoners have safe, humane and constitutional conditions of

Every year, dozens of media outlets around the country, including magazines, newspapers and TV and
radio stations, report stories from PLN, quote PLN and HRDC staff, cover our press releases and invite
us to sit on their panels and programs. While HRDC is relatively small, our media footprint is huge and
we have a major impact on news coverage of criminal justice issues. Just search “Prison Legal News”
online to see for yourself!
We want to increase our media work and expand our capacity to advocate on behalf of prisoners and
their families. This includes investigative reporting, media communications, litigation, and legislative
and administrative advocacy. The only thing that holds us back is lack of funding.
If you think the work we do makes a difference in the lives of people held in prisons, jails and other
detention centers, please make a donation. We receive no government funding.
All donations to HRDC make a difference. If you can become a monthly sustainer and donate a small
amount each month, it will go a long way towards expanding our ability to tackle more issues. Even if
you cannot afford to make a donation to HRDC, if you know someone who can, please encourage them
to do so. You can also support HRDC by purchasing subscriptions to Prison Legal News and buying
books from PLN.
We can’t do all the things we do without you and your financial support. It takes money to advocate for
systemic change, reform and justice, and if you believe in the work we’re doing—which is generally
not being done by anyone else—then I hope you’ll take a moment to make a tax-deductible donation to
HRDC is a lean and efficient operation, and any donation you make, whether big or small, will have
maximum effect and impact. Please make a contribution to support our work. To show our appreciation,
you can select from several gift options which are described in the enclosed insert, including a variety of
Make a donation of $100 or more and
we’ll mail one of our books to a prison
library on your behalf!
Thank you for your support, and best
wishes for the upcoming holidays.

In Struggle,

HRDC Executive Director Paul Wright, testifying before the FCC on the
high cost of prison and jail phone calls.

Paul Wright
Executive Director, HRDC
P.S. – Even if you cannot make a donation at this time, please let your friends know about HRDC and
PLN, and encourage them to support our work!

You can mail a check or money order to:
Human Rights Defense Center, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460
Or call HRDC’s office at 561-360-2523 and use your credit card,
Or visit HRDC online at and click on the donation link.
Remember — the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) is a
Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible!

Yes! I want to help support HRDC — here is my special donation of:
_____$25 _____$50 _____$100 _____$250 ____$500 _____$1,000 _____ Other
Note: If you don’t want a book premium for your donation of $100 or more, we’ll donate a copy of The Habeas
Citebook or Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs to a prison library on your behalf.

To subscribe to HRDC’s monthly publication, Prison Legal News, check here  and enclose $35 for
a one-year subscription. For one free sample issue of Prison Legal News, check here .

Credit card donors please fill out the following form
 I want to make a one-time contribution of $______________ to HRDC, charged to my credit card!
 I want to contribute a fixed amount to HRDC each month! I authorize the Human Rights Defense
Center to charge $______________ on my credit card every month until I give notice to stop, or until my
total donation amount of $______________ has been charged to my card, whichever comes first.
Print Name on Card: ______________________________________________________
Card Number: ___ ___ ___ ___ - ___ ___ ___ ___ - ___ ___ ___ ___ - ___ ___ ___ ___
Expiration Date: _____/_____/_______

Billing Zip Code for Card: _____________

I authorize the Human Rights Defense Center to charge a total of $______________to my credit card,
which matches the instructions indicated above.
Cardholder Signature: _____________________________________ Date: ___________________
HRDC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
We protect the privacy of our donors; donor names are not reported in our publication or online.
Please complete all applicable information to ensure delivery of any donation gifts. Thank you!
Name _____________________________________________________ Title _____________________
Organization __________________________________________________________________________
Address ____________________________________________________ Suite/Apt. _______________
City _______________________________ State _____________ Zip __________________________
Human Rights Defense Center, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460 • (561) 360-2523 • fax (866) 735-7136 •

P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460 ● (561) 360-2523

_______________ ____________________ _________



Notable Developments
The Human Rights Defense Center, a non-profit
501(c)(3) organization founded in 1990, is the parent
organization of Prison Legal News (PLN).
Throughout 2013, in cooperation with the Center
for Media Justice and Working Narratives, HRDC
co-coordinated and led the national Campaign for
Prison Phone Justice, which seeks just and equitable
rates for telephone calls made by prisoners. The
Campaign successfully urged the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) to take action
on the “Wright Petition” to reduce the cost of
exorbitant interstate prison and jail phone calls; in a
landmark decision, the FCC voted on August 9,
2013 to cap interstate prison phone rates nationwide.
The order was released in September 2013 and will
go into effect in early 2014.
On April 24, 2013, a federal district court in
Oregon entered judgment in PLN’s favor in a suit
challenging censorship due to a postcard-only policy
at the Columbia County Jail. This was the first time
a court had struck down as unconstitutional a jail’s
postcard-only policy following a trial on the merits.
HRDC received a substantial award of cy pres
funds in a class-action lawsuit in Washington State
against prison phone companies; as a result of the
award, HRDC will be launching its first statewide
prison phone justice campaign in Washington.
Additionally, HRDC relocated its office from
Vermont to Lake Worth, Florida, and received the
Society of Professional Journalists’ First
Amendment Award in 2013.

PLN – The Magazine
HRDC’s monthly publication, Prison Legal News,
reports on corrections and criminal justice-related
issues. PLN celebrated its 23rd anniversary on May
1, 2013, continuing its distinction of being the
longest-running independent magazine produced by
and for prisoners.

officials, “Forms of Judicial Deference in
Prison Law”

A profile of for-profit prison company
LaSalle Corrections, which operates
facilities in Louisiana and Texas, by Matt


Systemic abuses in Los Angeles County’s
jail system that resulted in lawsuits, a federal
investigation and eventual reforms, by Mike
Brodheim and Alex Friedmann


Derek Gilna’s examination of U.S.
immigration policy, including privatelyoperated immigration detention facilities


A survey of prison visitation programs in all
50 states by Chesa Boudin, Trevor Stutz and
Aaron Littman


“Slowly Closing the Gates: A State-by-State
Assessment of Recent Prison Closures,” by
Christopher Petrella and Alex Friedmann


Joe Watson’s in-depth look at Arizona’s
prison system, including prisoner deaths,
pardons and prison privatization


“An Innocent Man Speaks” – PLN editor
Paul Wright’s interview with Jeff Deskovic,
who was wrongfully convicted of murder
and eventually exonerated

PLN published the following cover stories in 2013:

Sharon Dolovich’s insightful examination of
the deference that judges give corrections



An examination of the history of the Prison
Rape Elimination Act and the long-delayed
implementation of PREA standards, by Alex


Prisoner deaths in San Diego County’s jail
system, by Dave Maass and Kelly Davis
with San Diego CityBeat


An argument for more mainstream media
coverage of criminal justice-related issues,
by Dan Froomkin


PLN’s second comprehensive examination
of the prison phone industry, with updated
state-by-state prison phone rates and
commission data, by John Dannenberg and
Alex Friedmann

Due to an increase in PLN’s advertising revenue in
2013, Prison Legal News expanded to 64 pages.
PLN works hard to maintain first-rate advertisers
that offer quality services and products of interest to
prisoners and their families. We have a target of
25% ad content to 75% news, editorial and legal
PLN distributed over 25,000 free sample issues in
2013 via direct mail and at conferences and other
events. PLN has approximately 9,000 subscribers in
all 50 states; an estimated 70% of our subscribers are
incarcerated. PLN’s print readership is around
90,000 based on reader surveys that indicate 10
people read each copy of PLN.
PLN continued to receive a large volume of mail
throughout 2013. The majority of this
correspondence was from prisoners, with many
requesting legal assistance or sending us news
clippings, court decisions and other items of interest.
Due to this large amount of mail, PLN is unable to
respond to everyone who contacts us.

Book Distribution
Book Sales
HRDC offers a wide variety of books of interest to
prisoners, including hard-to-find works on criminal
justice topics as well as self-help legal resources
designed to help prisoners who are litigating their
own cases.
HRDC added several new legal reference and
self-help titles to our book list in 2013, including
Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary and Complete
GED Preparation.

Book Publishing
PLN Publishing seeks to publish quality nonfiction
reference books that provide prisoners and their
advocates with reliable, timely and accurate
information they can use to help themselves and
improve their lives. We offer the highest author
royalties in publishing: 10% of the sales price of
each book sold.
Our goal is to produce a new title every year;
previous books published by PLN include The
Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
by Brandon Sample, and the Prisoners’ Guerrilla
Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the
United States and Canada (3rd Ed.), by Jon Marc
Taylor and edited by Susan Schwartzkopf. PLN did
not publish any new book titles in 2013.

PLN and HRDC Websites
During 2013 we further developed and expanded
PLN’s website by increasing its content and
usability. The website is a continuing work in
progress as we strive to improve the user interface,
search functionality and other features. PLN’s site
( receives over 100,000
visitors per month and has become a significant
resource for media and community outreach and
public education on criminal justice issues.
PLN’s website currently has over 17,300 news
and law articles in its searchable database. The
publications section has more than 5,500 reports,
audits and other documents related to criminal
justice topics, and our brief bank contains over 7,200
assorted legal pleadings – including complaints,


motions, appeal briefs, verdicts, judgments and
settlements in prison and jail cases.
Due to the proliferation of websites that offer free
access to published court rulings, we have stopped
loading new published court decisions into our site
and instead are only loading unpublished court
rulings that are otherwise not available or difficult to
find elsewhere.
HRDC’s website also was expanded and
improved in 2013. We began preparing in 2013 to
transition the websites for both PLN and HRDC to
new and updated sites – a process that is expected to
be complete in mid-2014.

HRDC Staff
HRDC’s executive team includes Paul Wright,
executive director and editor of PLN; Alex
Friedmann, associate director and managing editor
of PLN; chief financial officer Susan Schwartzkopf;
and litigation project director and general counsel
Lance Weber.
In June 2013, the Human Rights Defense Center
moved its office from Brattleboro, Vermont to Lake
Worth, Florida. While HRDC’s executive team
remained the same, new full-time office staff were
hired – including Robert E. Jack, staff attorney;
Judith Cohen, office manager; Jeff Antoniewicz,
paralegal; David Ganim, prison phone justice
director; Maricela Garcia, research and office
assistant; and Frances Sauceda, office assistant.
Carrie Wilkinson was hired in late 2013 as HRDC’s
prison phone justice director for Washington state.

HRDC Board of Directors
Dan Axtell – Mr. Axtell is a computer professional
and human rights activist.
Rick Best – Rick Best is a not-for-profit consultant
working primarily in financial management. He also
practices law and is part of the legal team litigating
civil rights violations arising out of the mass arrests
during the 2004 Republican National Convention in
New York City. He served two years in federal
prison for draft resistance during the Vietnam War
and was Executive Director of the National Lawyers
Guild from 1992-1995.

Bell Chevigny – Bell Chevigny is professor emerita
of literature at Purchase College, SUNY. She has
served on the PEN Prison Writing Program for
nearly twenty years, three of them as chair. The
Prison Writing Program offers an annual literary
competition to incarcerated men and women
nationwide. With the support of a Soros Senior
Justice Fellowship, she compiled Doing Time: 25
Years of Prison Writing, a PEN American Center
Prize anthology. She has written extensively about
incarcerated authors and their literary works.
Howard Friedman – Howard Friedman is the
principal in the Law Offices of Howard Friedman
P.C., a civil litigation firm in Boston, Massachusetts.
Howard’s practice emphasizes representing plaintiffs
in civil rights cases, particularly cases involving law
enforcement, including police misconduct and
prisoners’ rights litigation. Howard began his career
in 1977 as a staff attorney at the Prisoners’ Rights
Project in Boston. He is the past President of the
National Police Accountability Project of the
National Lawyers Guild and served as chair of the
Civil Rights Section of the Association of Trial
Lawyers of America (now the American Association
for Justice). He is a graduate of Northeastern
University School of Law and Goddard College.
Mike Godwin – Mike Godwin is an attorney and
author specializing in free speech and intellectual
property issues.
Judy Greene – Judith Greene is a criminal justice
policy analyst and the founding director of Justice
Strategies. Previously she was the recipient of a
Soros Senior Justice Fellowship. She has served as a
research associate for the RAND Corporation, as a
senior research fellow at the University of
Minnesota Law School and as director of the StateCentered Program for the Edna McConnell Clark


Foundation. From 1985 to 1993 she was Director of
Court Programs at the Vera Institute of Justice.

been on the faculty and a member of the College’s
board since its beginning.

Sheila Rule – Sheila Rule is co-founder of the Think
Outside the Cell Foundation
( The foundation
works to end the stigma of incarceration and offers
programs for those who live in the long shadow of
prison. She began working with this population in
2001 when she joined the Riverside Church Prison
Ministry in New York City and was asked to
correspond with incarcerated men and
women. Inspired by their rich potential, she started
the publishing company Resilience Multimedia to
publish books that present a fairer image of those
who have spent time behind bars. She is also on the
board of Good Shepherd Services, a leading New
York social services agency serving vulnerable
children and families. She was a journalist at The
New York Times for more than 30 years, including
seven as a foreign correspondent in Africa and
Europe, before retiring so she could embrace her
current work.

Paul Wright – Paul Wright is the editor of Prison
Legal News and founder of the Human Rights
Defense Center and its predecessor organization,
Prisoners’ Legal News. He is responsible for PLN’s
editorial content and HRDC’s public advocacy and
outreach efforts and fundraising. Mr. Wright was
incarcerated for 17 years in Washington State’s
prison system; he was released in 2003.

Peter Sussman – Peter Sussman is an author and
freelance journalist, and was a longtime editor at the
San Francisco Chronicle. He has received numerous
awards for his advocacy of media access to
prisoners. He is the co-author, with prison writer
Dannie M. Martin, of Committing Journalism: The
Prison Writings of Red Hog, and wrote a chapter on
the media and prisons in Invisible Punishment: The
Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment,
edited by Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind.
Bill Trine – Bill Trine has been a trial lawyer for the
people for 50 years, and a past president and founder
of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (TLPJ), past
president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
and on the board of other trial lawyer groups. Bill
has been the senior partner in his own law firm for
many years and presently is in the process of trying
to retire to do more writing and teaching. He started
a national prison project through TLPJ in 2005 and
has been plaintiff’s counsel in prison cases for
several years, including numerous lawsuits arising
out of a riot at a privately-operated prison in
Crowley County, Colorado. Bill helped start the
Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College in 1994 and has

Funding in 2013
HRDC received foundation support from the Open
Society Institute, Funding Exchange, Irvin Stern
Foundation and Sonya Staff Foundation in 2013.
Foundation support and individual donations made
up approximately 35% of HRDC’s annual revenue,
with the remainder coming from PLN subscriptions,
book sales and advertising revenue, plus HRDC’s
litigation project.
PLN subscription revenue in 2013 was over
$105,000, and advertising income increased to
approximately $125,000. HRDC’s book sales
generated around $85,000 in revenue.
Additionally, HRDC was awarded a total of $1
million in cy pres funds in a Washington State classaction suit related to state law violations by prison
phone companies between 1996 and 2000. The
lawsuit, Judd v. AT&T, resulted in a $46 million
settlement in January 2013, which included millions
of dollars in unclaimed funds for class members who
had died while the case was pending or who could
otherwise not be located. Dozens of non-profit
organizations applied for these cy pres funds, and
the state court granted HRDC two awards of
$500,000 each in April and August 2013.
This was HRDC’s first request for cy pres funds
in a class-action lawsuit. The original plaintiffs in
the Judd case included HRDC executive director
Paul Wright’s then-wife and former HRDC board
member Sandra Judd, former HRDC board member
and attorney Tara Herivel (who co-edited two of
PLN’s mass incarceration anthologies) and Paul’s
mother Zuraya Wright – whose claims were
dismissed because they related to long distance
rather than in-state prison phone calls.


HRDC will use the cy pres awards to establish its
first statewide prison phone justice campaign in
Washington State, with the goal of eliminating
prison phone “commission” kickbacks and reducing
in-state prison and jail phone rates. HRDC began
developing the campaign and making arrangements
to re-open our Seattle office in late 2013.

Activism & Advocacy
HRDC staff engaged in a number of activism and
advocacy efforts in 2013, to effect reform in our
nation’s criminal justice system and to educate the
public, policymakers and mainstream media about
criminal justice and prison-related issues. These
efforts included:

A three-book series, Prison Privatization:
The Many Facets of a Controversial
Industry, published in late 2012, included
information from interviews with HRDC
executive director Paul Wright and associate
director Alex Friedmann. Prison Legal News
was profiled in a chapter titled “Grassroots
Efforts Against Private Prisons.”


Millionaire media magnate and former
federal prisoner Conrad Black’s latest book,
A Matter of Principle, published in late
2012, was dedicated to Paul Wright as a
“loyal American friend.” PLN had published
an exclusive interview with Conrad Black in
September 2012.


On January 5, 2013, former HRDC prison
phone justice coordinator Mel Motel was
interviewed on “Reel Talk Radio” on KJCB
770 AM in Lafayette, Louisiana about the
Campaign for Prison Phone Justice.


Mel Motel and Paul Wright were guests on
“The 9 O’Clock Show with Bill Newman”
on WHMP 96.9 FM in Northampton, MA
on January 9, 2013 and discussed the
Campaign for Prison Phone Justice. Mel
also was a guest on the “Crossroads Radio
Show,” WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington, DC
on January 15, 2013, and discussed the


Paul Wright participated in a video
interview on Huffington Post Live on
January 15, 2013, regarding private prisons.


On January 16, 2013, Alex Friedmann and
Amalia Deloney, associate director of the
Center for Media Justice, co-accepted the
Digital Pioneer for Social Justice Award
from the Minority Media and
Telecommunications Council, on behalf of
the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice. FCC
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Martha
Wright – the lead petitioner in the Wright
Petition – attended the awards ceremony.


HRDC submitted comments on January 20,
2013 to the U.S. Commission on Civil
Rights regarding the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission’s enforcement
guidance for criminal background checks by


HRDC signed on to a January 24, 2013 joint
letter coordinated by Grassroots Leadership
calling for the closure of the CCA-operated
Dawson State Jail in Texas.



On January 28, 2013, Alex Friedmann
submitted comments to the Tennessee
Advisory Committee to the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights on issues
related to disenfranchisement and voting
rights for ex-prisoners in Tennessee.


HRDC submitted comments to the New
Hampshire House Criminal Justice and
Public Safety Committee on January 31,
2013, in support of legislation (HB 443-FN)
to prohibit the state from housing prisoners
in privately-operated facilities.


HRDC contributed to a Prison Policy
Initiative report on postcard-only mail
policies being implemented at jails across
the U.S., titled “Return to Sender.” The
report, released on February 7, 2013,
referenced several PLN lawsuits related to
jail censorship issues.


On February 7, 2013, Mel Motel testified
before the New Hampshire House Criminal
Justice and Public Safety Committee in
support of HB 443-FN, a bill to prohibit
prison privatization in that state.


Paul Wright attended the Students United
for Reform and Justice’s Culture Week, held
from February 11-14, 2013 at UC Davis
Law School in California, and co-presented
with Professor Holly Cooper on prison
phone-related issues.



HRDC submitted comments to the Vermont
House Committee on Corrections and
Institutions on February 13, 2014 in support
of H.28 – a bill that, among other
provisions, would prohibit the state from
housing prisoners in privately-operated
On February 14, 2013, HRDC, along with
over 200 other organizations, signed on to a
joint letter coordinated by the Prison Policy
Initiative asking the U.S. Census Bureau to
end prison gerrymandering by not counting
incarcerated people as residents of the
facilities where they are held for census


Paul Wright and Mel Motel attended the
Rebellious Lawyering Conference
(RebLaw) at Yale University on February
23, 2013, and spoke on a panel about the
Campaign for Prison Phone Justice.


HRDC and 25 other organizations signed on
to comments submitted by Just Detention
International to the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security on February 26, 2013
concerning Prison Rape Elimination Act
(PREA) standards for immigration detention


On February 28, 2013, Alex Friedmann and
U.C. Berkeley doctoral student Chris
Petrella spoke on Break Thru Radio’s “Third
Eye Weekly” about their efforts to have the
Private Prison Information Act reintroduced
in Congress.


Paul Wright, HRDC general counsel Lance
Weber and former HRDC staff attorney
Alissa Hull gave a presentation titled
“Defending the First Amendment Against
Prison and Jail Censors” at the Benjamin N.
Cardozo School of Law in New York on
March 11, 2013.


Alex Friedmann participated in a panel
presentation at the First Amendment Center
in Nashville, Tennessee on March 15, 2013
as part of the Society of Professional
Journalists’ Sunshine Week, on open
government issues. Other panelists included
Steve Cavendish, editor of the Nashville
City Paper, and Maria De Varenne, editor of
the Tennessean. Alex discussed PLN’s
public records lawsuit against CCA.


HRDC signed on to a March 19, 2013 letter
submitted to the U.S. House and Senate
Judiciary Committees, in support of
releasing immigration detainees who do not
need to be incarcerated and eliminating
ICE’s “bed mandate” to maintain 34,000
detention beds. The joint letter was
coordinated by Detention Watch Network.




Alex Friedmann spoke on March 22, 2013 to
the Christian Ethics Society at Belmont
University in Nashville, about the private
prison industry and divestment campaigns.


HRDC filed an extensive comment with the
Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) on March 25, 2013 in support of the
Wright Petition, caps on prison phone rates
and reform of the prison phone industry.


HRDC signed on to an April 4, 2013 letter
to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Janet Napolitano, calling for the
closure of the Polk County Detention
Center, an immigration detention facility in
Texas. The joint letter was coordinated by
Grassroots Leadership.


On April 6, 2013, Alex Friedmann and other
panelists, including Lee Petro, the attorney
representing the petitioners in the Wright
Petition, presented at the National
Conference on Media Reform in Denver,
Colorado about the Campaign for Prison
Phone Justice.


Mel Motel testified at a New Hampshire
Senate Finance Committee hearing on April
9, 2013 in support of HB 443-FN –
legislation to ban private prisons in the state.


Paul Wright and Lance Weber gave a
presentation on “The Constitutional Right to
Communicate with Prisoners” for the Center
on the Administration of Criminal Law and
The Prisoners’ Rights and Education Project
at New York University Law School on
April 9, 2013.



On April 14, 2013, Alex Friedmann spoke
about prison privatization at the
Brookmeade Congregational Church in
Nashville, as part of the church’s Criminal
Injustice series.
Paul Wright participated in an April 17,
2013 Huffington Post video panel on “Jim
Crow Prison,” concerning racism in
California’s prison system.


Mel Motel was a guest on the Kansas City,
Missouri KKFI 90.1 FM radio show “Jaws
for Justice” on April 22, 2013, and discussed
the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice.


Alex Friedmann participated in a video
interview for the Public Safety and Justice
Campaign on CCA’s 30-year anniversary;
the interview was posted on the Campaign’s
Nation Inside website on April 24, 2013.


On April 25, 2013, Alex Friedmann spoke
about private prisons on the Flaming Sword
of Justice, a progressive radio show


Alex Friedmann was a guest on KBOO
community radio in Portland, Oregon on
April 26, 2013, and spoke about PLN’s
victory in a censorship lawsuit against the
Columbus County Jail.


Mel Motel spoke on the Crossroads Radio
Show, WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington, DC,
about the Campaign for Prison Phone
Justice; other speakers included attorney Lee


Petro and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes
Norton. The show aired on April 30, 2013.

On May 3, 2013, HRDC staff spoke to
nearly thirty-five Vermont 10th graders
about the Freedom of Information Act.


Alex Friedmann presented on “The Political
and Societal Impact of the Private Prison
Industry” at the Rethinking Prisons
conference at Vanderbilt University on May
5, 2013. Other panelists included Sheila Van
Ness with the University of Chattanooga and
Matt Whitt with Warren Wilson College.


On May 7, 2013, Alex Friedmann and Chris
Petrella were guests on the 4 Justice Now
radio show’s “Women Behind the Wall,”
and spoke about the Private Prison
Information Act.


PLN assisted with a Prison Policy Initiative
report titled “Please Deposit All of Your
Money: Kickbacks, Rates, and Hidden Fees
in the Jail Phone Industry,” released on May
7, 2013. Alex Friedmann was included in
the report’s acknowledgements.


On May 15, 2013, Alex Friedmann spoke at
a community forum in Nashville regarding
prison privatization. The event was
coordinated by the Tennessee Immigrant
and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), and
other speakers included Carl Takei with the
ACLU’s National Prison Project, Bob Libal
with Grassroots Leadership, Judy Greene
with Justice Strategies and representatives
from TIRRC.


HRDC signed on to a May 15, 2013 joint
letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary
Committee in opposition to an amendment
to a bill that would increase penalties for
certain marijuana offenses committed on
federal land. The letter was coordinated by
the U.S. Advocacy Program of Human
Rights Watch.


Alex Friedmann attended CCA’s annual
shareholder meeting in Nashville on May
16, 2013, and participated in a protest

outside the meeting. He asked questions of
CCA’s board members and requested a
moment of silence in memory of a guard
who was murdered during a riot at CCA’s
Adams County Correctional Center in May
2012. CCA board chairman John Ferguson
refused the request.

Film producer Mark Faulk interviewed Alex
Friedmann on May 16, 2013 for an
upcoming documentary about the private
prison industry.


On May 18 and 19, 2013, Alex Friedmann
spoke on two panels at the National Lawyers
Guild’s Southern Conference in Nashville.
He discussed prison privatization and felon
disenfranchisement; other panelists included
Chris Petrella, Azadeh Shahshahani with the
ACLU, Desmond Meade with the Florida
Rights Restoration Coalition and Sandra
Enos with AID Atlanta. Alex also provided
an introduction for George Barrett, a
celebrated Nashville civil rights attorney.


Alex Friedmann was interviewed by Brave
New Films on June 4, 2013 on issues related
to the private prison industry, for the Prison
Profiteers video series – a joint project of
Beyond Bars, the ACLU and The Nation
( He was featured
in a video about CCA, Mel Motel appeared
in a video on prison phone company Global
Tel*Link, and PLN was credited for
providing research help for the videos.


On June 13, 2013, HRDC signed on to a
joint letter to the Assistant Secretary of State
for International Organization Affairs,
urging the U.S. government to extend an
invitation to UN Special Rapporteur on
Torture Juan Mendez to undertake a fact
finding visit to examine, among other things,
solitary confinement practices in U.S.
prisons. The sign-on letter was coordinated
by the ACLU.


HRDC joined a sign-on letter coordinated by
the ACLU on June 14, 2013, asking U.S.
Senators to oppose a proposed amendment
to the Border Security, Economic


Opportunity and Immigration Modernization
Act of 2013, which would allow immigrant
detainees to be incarcerated indefinitely with
no time limit or opportunity for a bond





Paul Wright was one of eight signatories to a
joint statement released by the Prisoners
Revolutionary Literature Fund on June 16,
2013, against censorship of the Revolution
newspaper at California’s Pelican Bay State
From June 19-22, 2013, Paul Wright
attended the Allied Media Conference in
Detroit, Michigan, which included a
network gathering of Nation Inside – one of
HRDC’s partners in the Campaign for
Prison Phone Justice. He gave an update on
the Campaign, announced the launch of
HRDC’s Washington Prison Phone Justice
Campaign, participated in a strategic
communications workshop with Spitfire
Strategies, and presented at a workshop
titled “Fighting for Prisoner
On June 20, 2013, Alex Friedmann was one
of four speakers on a teleconference call to
announce the release of a report by
Grassroots Leadership titled “The Dirty 30:
Nothing to Celebrate About 30 Years of
Corrections Corporation of America.” The
other speakers included Dr. Niaz Kasravi,
director of the NAACP’s Criminal Justice
Program; Grassroots Leadership executive
director Bob Libal; and Joshua Miller with
AFSCME. Alex assisted with the report and
was mentioned in the acknowledgements.
Alex Friedmann and HRDC prison phone
justice director David Ganim attended an
FCC workshop on prison phone rates at the
agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC
on July 10, 2013. Alex participated in a
panel discussion with National CURE codirector Charlie Sullivan, Virginia Delegate
Patrick Hope and several other panelists.
Other speakers at the workshop included
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, U.S.


Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

PLN sent letters to Tennessee Department of
Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield
on July 16, 2013 and September 19, 2013
regarding racial disparities in honor units at
the Northeast Correctional Complex. PLN
had filed public records requests to obtain
statistical data regarding the racial
breakdown of the population in the units,
which indicated that black prisoners were
disproportionately underrepresented.


HRDC signed on to a July 22, 2013 joint
letter to members of Congress in support of
the creation of a task force to review the
unprecedented growth of the federal prison
system. The letter was coordinated by the
U.S. Advocacy Program of Human Rights


Film producer Stephen Newton interviewed
Alex Friedmann on July 25, 2013 for an
upcoming film titled “Outcasts: Surviving
the Culture of Rejection.” The film
addresses the issue of recidivism in
Tennessee and is expected to be released in
early 2014 (



Alex Friedmann spoke and answered
questions at a forum on criminal justice
topics at the Christ United Methodist Church
on July 28, 2013 in Franklin, Tennessee.


On July 29, 2013, Alex Friedmann
participated in a protest at CCA’s
headquarters in Nashville in support of the
Dream 9, a group of immigration reform
activists who were incarcerated at CCA’s
Eloy facility in Arizona. The protest action
included delivering a letter to CCA vice
president Steve Owen.


On August 5, 2013, HRDC signed on to a
joint letter to Immigration and Customs
Enforcement to protest ICE’s suspension of
community-based visitation programs at
three detention facilities in Southern
California due to public criticism of
mistreatment of LGBT detainees. The letter
was coordinated by the ACLU of Southern


HRDC and 50 other organizations signed on
to an August 15, 2013 letter opposing the
construction of a for-profit prison in
McAllen, Texas. The joint letter was
coordinated by Grassroots Leadership.


On August 16, 2013, David Ganim attended
the 2013 Florida Rights Restoration
Coalition convening in Orlando, and
networked with other Florida-based
organizations working on criminal justicerelated issues.



HRDC submitted a letter to the California
Assembly Appropriations Committee on
August 26, 2013 in support of Senate Bill
716, to require jails and other detention
facilities in California to adopt policies
consistent with the national Prison Rape
Elimination Act (PREA) standards.
On August 28, 2013, HRDC submitted a
letter to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy,
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary
Committee, regarding the federal Bureau of
Prisons’ plan to transfer female prisoners
from a facility in Danbury, Connecticut to a

newly-opened prison in Aliceville, Alabama.
HRDC expressed concerns about the impact
the transfer would have on prisoners’ ability
to receive visits from their family members.

Alex Friedmann was a speaker on a
September 19, 2013 media call announcing
the release of a report by In The Public
Interest (ITPI) on private prison bed
guarantees. Other speakers included former
Oklahoma DOC director Justin Jones, ITPI
staffer Shar Habibi, and Michael McBride
with Urban Strategies and Lifelines to


HRDC and 25 other organizations submitted
a joint letter on September 24, 2013 to the
U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice and Science in support of funding for
the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal
Corrections, to conduct a review of the
rapidly growing federal prison system. The
letter was coordinated by Justice Fellowship.


On October 3, 2013, Paul Wright presented
at the Media Justice Criminal Justice
Workshop at the Nathan Cummings
Foundation in New York City. The event, on
media justice and prison phone-related
issues, was sponsored by the Center for
Media Justice, HRDC, Working Narratives
and Alternate ROOTS.


Paul Wright presented at the Cleveland State
University College of Law on October 16,
2013 on “Prisons, Power and Policy in the
Twenty-First Century.”


On October 17, 2013, after receiving letters
from nine prisoners at the Tennessee Prison
for Women, PLN contacted the Tennessee
Department of Correction to express
concerns about issues raised in the letters,
including allegations of sexual misconduct
and verbal abuse by prison staff, insufficient
toilet paper and sanitary napkins, inadequate
medical and dental care, and a lack of
comparable programs offered in men’s

10 | P a g e


Paul Wright presented at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on October
18, 2013, on issues related to mass
incarceration and socioeconomic disparities
in our nation’s criminal justice system.


On October 28, 2013, HRDC and eleven
other organizations signed on to a letter
submitted to Attorney General Eric Holder
regarding efforts by the Department of
Justice to remove restrictions that prevent
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grantees
from providing services to victims of
violence who are incarcerated. The joint
letter was coordinated by the Raising the
Bar Coalition, of which HRDC is a member.



Alex Friedmann attended the National
Commission on Correctional Health Care
(NCCHC) conference in Nashville from
October 28-30, 2013; he attended several
panels on prison medical care and took a
tour of the Deberry Special Needs Facility.
Following the conference, he wrote an
article about the use of telemedicine in
On November 14, 2013, Alex Friedmann
attended a Tennessee Department of
Correction Family and Friends Forum in
Nashville, questioned state prison officials
and spoke with TDOC Commissioner
Derrick Schofield about issues of concern in
Tennessee’s prison system. He also wrote a
debrief regarding the event, which was
distributed to prisoners and prisoners’
family members.


Grassroots Leadership released a report on
prisoners held in out-of-state private prisons,
titled “Locked Up & Shipped Away,” on
November 20, 2013. Alex Friedmann
contributed to the report and was mentioned
in the credits; the report also referenced two
PLN articles.


PLN sent a letter to the Tennessee
Department of Correction on November 26,
2013 to express concern about changes in
the prison system’s formulary; i.e., the
removal of certain medications from the

formulary and requiring prisoners to
purchase those medications from the prison
commissary. PLN noted that 10 of the 14
members of the TDOC committee
responsible for the formulary change were
employed by private, for-profit contractors,
including CCA and Corizon.

Alex Friedmann was interviewed for the
radio program “Making Contact”
( The show aired on
December 3, 2013 as “2013: The Year the
Prison System Changed?”


On December 5, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
a panelist on a live radio program, “Your
Call,” on KALW public radio in San
Francisco. Other panelists included Palm
Beach Post reporter Pat Beall, Huffington
Post writer Chris Kirkham and a spokesman
for California’s prison system. The topic
was prison privatization and California’s
transfer of more than 8,000 prisoners to outof-state private prisons.


PLN sent a letter to Tennessee Department
of Correction Commissioner Derrick
Schofield on December 7, 2013 in reference
to the TDOC rebidding its prison phone
contract. The letter requested that the TDOC
forgo prison phone commissions and base its
new prison phone contract on the lowest
cost to prisoners and their families.


Alex Friedmann gave three presentations on
private prison-related issues at the Public
Safety and Justice Campaign’s annual
strategy session on December 12, 2013 in
Washington, DC. HRDC is a member of the

11 | P a g e


Media Outreach
HRDC continued to make the news in 2013,
including articles that mentioned PLN or quoted
PLN staff. This media coverage included daily
newspapers, magazines, radio programs and TV
shows. Further, HRDC issued 13 press releases in
2013. The following compilation of news reports
does not include articles about HRDC’s litigation
and is not a complete list, but is illustrative of media
coverage that PLN and HRDC received during the
past year:

A PLN article on prison closures was cited
in a Voice of Detroit article about
Michigan’s prison and parole reforms on
January 9, 2013.


On January 23, 2013, HRDC and UC
Berkeley doctoral student Chris Petrella
were mentioned in a Huffington Post article
about the Private Prison Information Act.


HRDC was mentioned in a January 24, 2013
news report on CBS 11-Dallas as one of
several organizations calling for the closure
of the Dawson State Jail in Dallas, Texas.


PLN’s prison phone survey data was
mentioned in a January 25, 2013 McClatchy
article about the FCC taking action on
prison phone rates.


PLN was mentioned in a January 30, 2013
article in the A&T Register regarding the
FCC’s action to lower prison phone rates.


In a February 3, 2013 article about a $45
million class-action settlement against
AT&T involving prison phone services, the
Seattle Times mentioned the lawsuit had
been filed by family and friends of HRDC
executive director Paul Wright.


A February 7, 2013 Forbes article
mentioned PLN managing editor Alex
Friedmann and Chris Petrella in reference to
their efforts to have the Private Prison
Information Act reintroduced by U.S. Rep.
Sheila Jackson Lee.


RT (Russian Television) quoted from a PLN
article on elderly prisoners in a February 14,
2013 news report about a 73-year-old exoffender who robbed a bank so he could
return to prison.


Alex Friedmann’s editorial on prison
privatization in Michigan was published on on February 15, 2013.


On March 19, 2013, Paul Wright was quoted
by the BBC regarding the most daring
prison escapes.


Alex Friedmann was quoted in the Nashville
Post on March 21, 2013 about CCA
excluding his shareholder resolution related
to the company’s restructuring as a real
estate investment trust (REIT). “Should
CCA’s REIT conversion turn out badly, as
did the company’s first attempt to become a
REIT, the company and its board cannot
claim they were unaware that they should
have fully informed shareholders about
CCA’s history with respect to REITs,” he

12 | P a g e


Courthouse News Service (CNS) cited PLN
in an article about the U.S. criminal justice
system on April 12, 2013, after CNS
webpage editor Robert Kahn visited PLN’s
office in Vermont.








On April 12, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
quoted in an article in Barron’s regarding
falsified staffing records at a CCA-operated
prison in Idaho. “Based on the findings by
the Idaho Department of Correction and
CCA’s own admissions, every single
jurisdiction that contracts with CCA should
conduct an audit to ensure contractual
compliance and adequate staffing at
facilities operated by the company,” he said.

A May 17, 2013 article in the Clarion
Ledger quoted Alex Friedmann regarding
the death of a CCA guard during a riot and
CCA’s refusal to honor a 30-second moment
of silence at the company’s annual
shareholder meeting. “In that one meeting
CCA would not give 30 seconds of respect,”
he noted. “It speaks volumes how the
company thinks of its employees and how it
treats them.”


In May 2013, The American Reader profiled
PLN in an article on censorship by prison
officials; the article was also posted on

Alex Friedmann was cited in a May 23,
2013 Nashville Post article about his
criticism of a private prison study conducted
by professors at Temple University; he
contended the study did not adequately
disclose it was funded by private prison


On May 30, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
interviewed by WSMV Channel 4 in
Nashville for a news report on Tennessee
prisoners using contraband cell phones to
post photos and videos on Facebook.


Alex Friedmann was quoted in a Nashville
Post article on June 19, 2013 about CCA
losing its contract to operate the Idaho
Correctional Center.


A June 21, 2013 article in the Houston Press
quoted Alex Friedmann in regard to a report
released by Grassroots Leadership titled
“The Dirty Thirty: Nothing to Celebrate
About 30 Years of Corrections Corporation
of America.”


Paul Wright and Alex Friedmann were
quoted in a July 4, 2013 Tennessean article
about JPay, a for-profit company that
charges a fee for prisoners’ families and
friends to deposit money in prison accounts,
with the state receiving a cut of the fee

Alex Friedmann was quoted in the Clarion
Ledger on May 13, 2013 regarding a riot
and the murder of a prison guard at the
CCA-operated Adams County Correctional
Center in Mississippi.
On May 16, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
quoted on Channel 5 News (Nashville)
about a protest with other activists outside
CCA’s headquarters during the company’s
2013 annual shareholder meeting.
Alex Friedmann was quoted in a May 16,
2013 Associated Press article regarding the
resignation of the warden at a scandalplagued CCA prison in Idaho.
Paul Wright was quoted in a May 17, 2013
article on about a
federal prisoner being placed in segregation
for using social media.

13 | P a g e



In a July 10, 2013 Legal Times article, Alex
Friedmann was quoted in regard to the
FCC’s vote to cap interstate prison phone


On July 16, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
quoted in the Atlanta Daily World
concerning CCA’s increasing profits while a
growing number of blacks and Hispanics are
being sent to prison.


Alex Friedmann was interviewed for an
August 5, 2013 news report by WSMV
Channel 4 in Nashville on the sale of ecigarettes in jails.


An August 8, 2013 article in the Washington
Post mentioned PLN’s prison phone
research and its relevance to the FCC
decision to lower prison phone rates.


On August 9, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
interviewed by WSMV Channel 4 in
Nashville regarding prison phone-related
issues and the FCC’s vote to cap the cost of
interstate prison phone calls.


The U-T San Diego paper quoted Paul
Wright in an August 10, 2013 article about
postcard-only policies being implemented at
county jails.

An article in the Intelligencer Journal on
September 14, 2013 mentioned PLN and
HRDC in reference to the FCC’s decision to
lower interstate phone rates.


Paul Wright was quoted in Neiman Reports
(Harvard University) on September 18,
2013 regarding the need for journalists to
cover more criminal justice stories.
“Normally well-intentioned or hard-nosed
journalists, they tend to take statements by
prison officials or government officials at
face value, with no type of critical
disbelief,” he stated.


On September 19, 2013, Alex Friedmann
was quoted in The Daily Advertiser
regarding private prison bed guarantees in


Alex Friedmann was quoted in an article on
private prison bed guarantees by PR Watch
on September 20, 2013.



An August 14, 2013 article in the Phoenix
New Times highlighted PLN’s cover story
on the Arizona Department of Corrections
by PLN contributing writer Joe Watson, and
quoted Alex Friedmann.


Alex Friedmann was quoted in an August
19, 2013 Rolling Stone article about the
FCC’s long-awaited vote to lower prison
phone rates. “Rather than being the end of a
very lengthy decade-long campaign,” he
said, “it’s the beginning of a longer struggle
to ensure additional reforms of the prison
phone industry.”


On September 8, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
quoted in a StarNews article about the high

cost of prison phone calls and the FCC’s
vote to cap interstate phone rates.

14 | P a g e








An October 1, 2013 article in The Nation
quoted Alex Friedmann in reference to
prisons being big business. “It’s like the
hotel industry,” he said. “The hotel industry
wants to keep their beds full as much as
possible, because it means more revenue.
Same thing for the private prison
The Tampa Bay Times quoted Paul Wright
in an October 4, 2013 article about
privatized prison medical care.
On October 18, 2013, Courthouse News
Service quoted Paul Wright in an article
about the lack of air conditioning and brutal
heat that killed 14 prisoners in Texas.
Alex Friedmann was quoted by WSMV
Channel 4 in Nashville on October 18, 2013,
concerning high levels of violence in
Tennessee prisons.
The Orlando Sentinel quoted Alex
Friedmann on October 19, 2013 about two
Florida prisoners who had escaped using
forged court documents.
On October 22, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
quoted by WCPO in Cincinnati about the
lack of inspections to ensure that Ohio jails
meet state standards. “Who’s guarding the
guards or who’s watching the watchers?” he
asked. “When there is no oversight,
conditions tend to deteriorate.”
The Lewiston Tribune quoted Alex
Friedmann on October 25, 2013 concerning
the violence-prone CCA-operated Idaho
Correctional Center.


In the October 25-27, 2013 weekend edition
of Counterpunch, PLN’s cover story on the
Prison Rape Elimination Act was mentioned
in regard to sexual abuse of juvenile


A rebuttal editorial by Alex Friedmann, in
response to an earlier editorial by CCA vice
president Harley Lappin, was published by
the Tennessean on October 26, 2013. Alex’s

editorial was also cited by In These Times,
which identified him as being affiliated with
“the ruthless and indispensable newsletter
and website, Prison Legal News.”

Alex Friedmann was quoted in an October
26, 2013 article in the Palm Beach Post
about dubious cost savings by privatelyoperated prisons in Florida.


Paul Wright and PLN contributing writers
David Reutter and Chris Zoukis were quoted
in an October 31, 2013 article in The
American Reader on misconceptions about
life in prison.


PLN was mentioned and Paul Wright was
quoted in a November 4, 2013 article in The
Militant on prison censorship issues.


On November 6, 2013, Alex Friedmann was
quoted in a lengthy Worcester Telegram
article about the evils of prison privatization.


Alex Friedmann was interviewed by WSMV
Channel 4 in Nashville for a November 12,
2013 news report on a violent cell extraction
at a Tennessee state prison.


A November 12, 2013 article on cited a PLN cover story
about prison food.


RT (Russian Television) interviewed Alex
Friedmann on November 15, 2013 for a
news report on private prison companies.


Linke Zeitung, a German publication, quoted
Alex Friedmann in a November 29, 2013
article about the private prison industry.


The Palm Beach Post quoted Paul Wright in
a December 1, 2013 article about prisoners
used on community work crews in Florida.
“That sounds like plain old exploitative
slavery to me,” he said. “I don’t think
exploiting people makes any kind of work


HRDC was mentioned in a brief December
3, 2013 Nashville Post article about Alex

15 | P a g e

Friedmann’s shareholder resolution filed
with CCA to reduce prison phone rates at
the company’s for-profit facilities.

On December 12, 2013, Alex Friedmann
was quoted in the Tennessean about the high
costs of phone calls in Tennessee’s prison


Alex Friedmann’s letter to the editor on
housing Vermont prisoners in out-of-state
private prisons, in response to a previous
letter by CCA spokesman Steve Owen, was
published by the Valley News on December
14, 2013.


PLN was cited in a City Paper
(Pennsylvania) article on December 19,
2013, regarding prisoners’ access to public


The Daily Business Review profiled PLN on
December 20, 2013 in an article about a
censorship suit filed by HRDC against the
St. Lucie County Jail in Florida.


On December 26, 2013, the Broward/Palm
Beach New Times published a profile of
PLN and PLN editor Paul Wright.

Litigation Project
Attorneys with HRDC’s Litigation Project provide
co-counsel in all censorship and public records
lawsuits involving Prison Legal News. HRDC
general counsel Lance Weber also co-counsels select
cases involving prisons and jails with other civil
rights attorneys across the country. All of HRDC’s
litigation has a public education and media
component that furthers our advocacy efforts with
respect to criminal justice reform and prisoners’
HRDC continues to be heavily involved in
litigation, primarily due to censorship issues related
to PLN the magazine and PLN book distribution
efforts, as well as denials of our public records
requests. PLN litigation continued to generate media

coverage in 2013, including articles in the
Washington Post, Associated Press, Dallas Morning
News, ABC News, Valley News (NH),, Times News (TN), Gilmer Mirror
(TX), Longview News-Journal (TX), Las Vegas
Review-Journal, Courthouse News Service, Journal
Sentinel (WI), New England First Amendment
Coalition, VT Digger, Burlington Free Press,
Nashville City Paper and News Journal (TX).
HRDC’s 2013 litigation docket included the
following cases; cases that were both filed and
resolved during the year are listed in the “Cases
Resolved” section.

New Cases Filed in 2013
CCA Public Records Case in Texas: PLN filed
suit in the District Court of Travis County, Texas in
May 2013, alleging that Corrections Corporation of
America had failed to respond to public records
requests. PLN had requested a number of records
from CCA, including contracts between the
company and state and local government agencies,
as well as settlements, verdicts and judgments
entered against CCA in Texas. PLN contended that
CCA was the functional equivalent of a government
agency performing the inherently public service of
operating prisons and jails, and thus must comply
with Texas’ public records statute. CCA operates
nine facilities in Texas, including four that house
state prisoners. PLN is represented by attorneys
Cindy Saiter Connolly with Scott, Douglass &
McConnico, LLP and Brian McGiverin with the
Texas Civil Rights Project. The case is Prison Legal
News v. CCA.
Kenosha County, Wisconsin Jail Censorship Suit:
PLN filed suit against Kenosha County, Wisconsin
and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office on June 27,
2013; the complaint alleges that the county jail
censored PLN’s books and magazine. In conjunction
with the suit, PLN filed a motion for a preliminary
injunction. PLN is represented by the Chicago law
firm of Loevy & Loevy and HRDC general counsel
Lance Weber. The case is Prison Legal News v.

16 | P a g e

Nevada Department of Corrections Censorship
Case: PLN filed a federal lawsuit against the
Nevada Department of Corrections on June 27,
2013. The complaint accuses state prison officials of
censoring PLN’s books, magazines and
correspondence pursuant to their “approved
vendors” and “unauthorized correspondence”
policies, as well as policies that prohibit the use of
address labels and require books to be sent to
prisoners via first class mail. In 2000, the Nevada
Department of Corrections had settled a censorship
suit filed by PLN over similar issues, and agreed that
prisoners “shall be permitted to subscribe to the
publications of their choice.” PLN is now seeking
declaratory and permanent injunctive relief, as well
as damages and payment of attorneys’ fees and
costs, and has moved to hold the Nevada
Department of Corrections in contempt for violating
the prior settlement agreement. PLN is represented
by Staci Pratt and Allen Lichtenstein, attorneys with
the Nevada ACLU; Ernest Galvan with the San
Francisco law firm of Rosen Bien Galvan &
Grunfeld; and HRDC general counsel Lance Weber.
The case is Prison Legal News v. Cox.
CCA Public Records Case in Vermont: PLN filed
suit in Superior Court in Vermont on June 7, 2013,
alleging that by housing and overseeing Vermont
prisoners, CCA is a “public agency” as defined by
the state’s public records law and thus is required to
comply with public records requests. The lawsuit
was filed after CCA failed to respond to PLN’s
records request related to its incarceration of
Vermont prisoners in out-of-state facilities. PLN has
asked the court to declare that CCA is a “public
agency” for purposes of Vermont’s public records
law; the suit also seeks reimbursement of costs and
attorneys’ fees. CCA filed a motion to dismiss,
which remained pending at the end of 2013. PLN is
represented by ACLU of Vermont staff attorney Dan
Barrett. The case is Prison Legal News v. CCA.
Comal County, Texas Jail Censorship Suit: PLN
filed suit in federal court against Comal County,
Texas on July 8, 2013. The lawsuit alleges that the
county jail censored PLN’s books, magazines and
correspondence without adequate due process; a
motion for a preliminary injunction was filed, but
was mooted in September 2013 after the jail changed
its mail policy. PLN is represented by attorneys
James Harrington and Brian McGiverin with the

Texas Civil Rights Project and HRDC general
counsel Lance Weber. The case is Prison Legal
News v. Holder.
St. Lucie County, Florida Jail Censorship Case:
PLN filed a federal lawsuit against Sheriff Ken J.
Mascara and the St. Lucie County Jail in Florida on
December 17, 2013. The complaint alleges that the
jail has a policy which prohibits prisoners from
receiving any mail except postcards, including a
prohibition on magazines and books. The suit seeks
declaratory and injunctive relief as well as nominal
and compensatory damages. PLN is represented by
attorneys Randall Berg and Dante Trevisani with the
Florida Justice Institute, and HRDC general counsel
Lance Weber and staff attorney Robert Jack. The
case is Prison Legal News v. Mascara.
Virginia Beach Correctional Center Censorship
Suit: On July 30, 2013, PLN filed suit in federal
court against Sheriff Kenneth Stolle and the Virginia
Beach Correctional Center – the largest jail in the
Commonwealth of Virginia. The lawsuit alleges that
the jail censored PLN’s books, magazine and
correspondence without adequate due process, in
violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
“Government officials, including those in the
Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office, should not be in the
business of unconstitutionally censoring the
publications citizens can read, even if those citizens
are incarcerated – including those who have not been
convicted and are ‘presumed innocent,’” said HRDC
executive director Paul Wright. PLN is represented
by Charlottesville attorneys Jeffrey E. Fogel and
Steven D. Rosenfield, plus HRDC general counsel
Lance Weber. The case is Prison Legal News v.

17 | P a g e

Sullivan County, Tennessee Jail Censorship
Case: PLN filed suit in federal court against Sheriff
Wayne Anderson and the Sullivan County Jail on
October 10, 2013. The lawsuit alleges that prisoners
can only send and receive postcards, which prevents
them from receiving PLN’s magazines and books in
violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In addition to the complaint, PLN filed a motion for
a preliminary injunction to prohibit enforcement of
the jail’s restrictive mail policy. PLN is represented
by Tricia Herzfeld with the Nashville firm of
Ozment Law, and by HRDC general counsel Lance
Weber. The case is Prison Legal News v. Anderson.
Wrongful Death Case in Washington State:
HRDC co-counseled with a Seattle law firm to
represent the estate and minor children of Ricardo
Mejia, a 26-year-old Washington State prisoner who
died as a result of the deliberate indifference of
prison medical staff. Mr. Mejia suffered a horrible,
painful death in January 2011 due to sepsis, septic
shock and untreated necrotizing fasciitis (commonly
known as flesh-eating bacteria). After pre-litigation
settlement discussions with the state, a wrongful
death suit was filed in December 20, 2013 in
Thurston County Superior Court alleging systemic
failures by prison medical staff. The case is expected
to settle in early 2014, pursuant to the pre-litigation
discussions. Mejia’s estate and two minor children
are represented by Jesse Wing with the law firm of
MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, and HRDC general
counsel Lance Weber. The case is Soria v.
Washington State Department of Corrections.

Prior Cases Still Pending in 2013
Columbia County, Oregon Jail Censorship Case:
PLN filed suit in federal court against Columbia
County, Oregon on January 13, 2012. The lawsuit
alleges that the jail censored PLN’s magazines and
correspondence pursuant to a postcard-only policy
and ban on magazines, and failed to provide
adequate due process notice when publications were
censored in violation of the First and Fourteenth
Amendments. The court issued a preliminary
injunction against the jail in May 2012, suspending

its postcard-only policy and ordering jail officials to
deliver magazines to prisoners. On April 24, 2013,
following a February 2013 bench trial, the district
court found that the postcard-only policy at the
Columbia County jail was unconstitutional and
entered a permanent injunction. This was the first
time in American history that a court had struck
down a jail’s postcard-only policy following a trial
on the merits. The county and PLN subsequently
settled the damages claims still at issue in the
lawsuit. The county filed a notice of appeal which
remained pending at the end of 2013, and PLN’s
motion for attorneys’ fees and costs also remained
pending. PLN is represented by attorneys Jesse
Wing and Katherine Chamberlain of MacDonald
Hoague and Bayless, Marc D. Blackman with the
Portland law firm of Ransom Blackman, LLP and
HRDC attorney Lance Weber. The case is Prison
Legal News v. Columbia County.
CCA Wrongful Death Suits in Hawaii: HRDC
filed separate lawsuits against Corrections
Corporation of America over the deaths of two
Hawaiian prisoners at CCA’s Saguaro Correctional
Center in Arizona. Because the State of Hawaii
contracts with CCA to house prisoners in Saguaro,
the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of
Public Safety were also named as defendants. The
family of Bronson Nunuha sued CCA on February
15, 2012; Nunuha had been placed in a controversial
behavior modification program at the CCA-run
prison, where he was brutally murdered by two
members of a rival gang. Clifford Medina’s family
sued CCA on May 23, 2012; Medina was housed in
a segregation cell with another prisoner who
threatened to kill him and eventually strangled him
to death. The lawsuits claim that the deaths were due
to understaffing, deliberate indifference to prisoners’
safety and CCA’s negligence in running the Saguaro
facility. The Nunuha and Medina families are
represented by HRDC, the San Francisco law firm of
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP and the Hawaii
ACLU. The cases are Estate of Nunuha v. State of
Hawaii and Estate of Medina v. State of Hawaii.

18 | P a g e

Walton County, Georgia Jail Censorship Case:
PLN filed a federal lawsuit against Walton County,
Georgia on September 21, 2012. The complaint
accuses the Walton County jail of censoring PLN’s
books, magazines and correspondence due to a
postcard-only policy and a ban on books and
magazines. The district court granted in part and
denied in part PLN’s motion for a preliminary
injunction on March 26, 2013, and a trial is
scheduled in February 2014. PLN is represented by
attorneys Brian Spears, Gerry Weber, Jeff Filipovits
and Andrew Wan, as well as HRDC general counsel
Lance Weber. The case is Prison Legal News v.
Livingston County, Michigan Jail Censorship
Suit: PLN filed suit against Livingston County,
Michigan and Sheriff Bob Bezotte on August 9,
2011. The federal lawsuit alleges that the county jail
“adopted and implemented written mail policies and
practices that unconstitutionally restrict
correspondence to prisoners via postcards only...,”
and raises claims under the First and Fourteenth
Amendments. The defendants filed a motion for
summary judgment on December 5, 2013, which
remains pending. PLN is represented by attorneys
Thomas M. Loeb, Brian J. Prain and Daniel E.
Manville, plus HRDC general counsel Lance Weber.
The case is Prison Legal News v. Bezotte.
Pinal County, Arizona Jail Censorship Suit: On
September 7, 2011, PLN filed suit against Pinal
County, Arizona and Sheriff Paul Babeu challenging
the county jail’s ban on all books, magazines and
non-postcard mail, and the denial of due process
when such mail is censored. After the lawsuit was
filed, the county claimed that the censorship was a
“mistake.” On March 20, 2013, the district court
granted in part and denied in part the parties’ cross
motions for partial summary judgment. In May
2013, PLN filed an interlocutory appeal to the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals. PLN is represented by Dan
Pochoda with the Arizona ACLU, the San Francisco
law firm of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP,
and HRDC general counsel Lance Weber. The case
is Prison Legal News v. Babeu.
Florida Statewide Ban on Prison Legal News: On
November 17, 2011, PLN filed suit challenging a
statewide ban on Prison Legal News by the Florida
Department of Corrections (FDOC); the ban is

purportedly based on PLN’s advertising content,
including pen pal ads. PLN previously sued the
FDOC over a similar policy in 2003, but that case
was dismissed as moot after the defendants changed
their policy just before trial and assured the court
that PLN would not be banned based on its
advertisements. Private prison companies GEO
Group and Corrections Corporation of America are
also named as defendants in this case, as they also
censor PLN at their Florida facilities. Although set
for trial in August 2013, the trial was postponed by
the court and the case remained pending at the end
of 2013. PLN is represented by Randall Berg, Josh
Glickman and Dante Trevisani with the Florida
Justice Institute, Randall Marshall with the Florida
ACLU, and HRDC general counsel Lance Weber.
The case is Prison Legal News v. Crews.
CCA Infant Wrongful Death Suit in Tennessee:
On November 17, 2011, HRDC and attorneys
Andrew Clarke and Luther Sutter filed lawsuits in
federal and state court in Tennessee on behalf of
former prisoner Countess Clemons and the estate of
Roland Clemons, her deceased infant child. The
suits claim that Corrections Corporation of America
was deliberately indifferent to Ms. Clemons’ serious
medical needs when CCA employees at the
Silverdale Detention Facility in Chattanooga, where
Ms. Clemons was incarcerated, did not timely take
her to a hospital when she began experiencing
preterm labor. Upon arrival at the hospital over five
hours after she first requested assistance from CCA
staff, her son Roland was born but died shortly
afterward. The state court cases were dropped in
2013 and the federal lawsuits remain pending; the
latter cases are Clemons v. CCA and Luhowiak v.

19 | P a g e

reading materials are censored. The Orleans Parish
Jail entered into a consent judgment and changed its
mail policies in December 2011, and settled the case
by paying damages in September 2012. The issue of
attorneys’ fees and costs remained pending as of the
end of 2013. PLN is represented by New Orleans
attorneys Mary Howell, Elizabeth Cumming and
John Adcock, and HRDC general counsel Lance
Weber. The case is Prison Legal News v. Gusman.

Cases Resolved in 2013

BOP FOIA Suit: In September 2005, PLN filed a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit in the
District of Columbia against the federal Bureau of
Prisons, seeking records related to all cases over a
multi-year period in which the BOP paid any funds
to resolve claims or lawsuits. The BOP responded to
PLN’s FOIA request by trying to charge a ridiculous
amount of money to search for and copy the
requested records. The district court ruled in PLN’s
favor on June 26, 2006 and ordered the BOP to
provide the records at no charge. The BOP produced
some of the requested records but most were
redacted or incomplete. In March 2009, the court
ordered the BOP to “conduct anew its searches for
the records sought by plaintiff,” or to demonstrate
the adequacy of its search. PLN filed five motions
for summary judgment in this case; on July 23, 2013
the district court granted summary judgment to the
defendants. PLN appealed to the DC Circuit Court
of Appeals in August 2013, and also has moved for
attorneys’ fees and costs as the prevailing party,
because the suit resulted in the BOP producing the
requested records. PLN was represented before the
district court by Washington, DC attorney Ed Elder,
the Partnership for Civil Justice and HRDC general
counsel Lance Weber. On appeal, PLN is
represented by the Washington, DC law firm of
Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP and HRDC general
counsel Lance Weber. The case is Prison Legal
News v. Samuels (previously Prison Legal News v.
Orleans Parish, Louisiana Jail Censorship Case:
On September 9, 2011, PLN filed suit against the
Orleans Parish Jail in New Orleans, Louisiana,
challenging the jail’s ban on books and magazines
and the denial of due process notice when such

CCA Public Records Case in Tennessee: In May
2008, PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann sued
Corrections Corporation of America in state court
under Tennessee’s public records act, seeking
disclosure of certain records related to CCA’s
operation of prisons and jails in Tennessee. The trial
court held, for the first time, that a private prison
company was subject to the state’s public records
statute, and CCA appealed. In August 2009 the
Court of Appeals found that CCA was the functional
equivalent of a state agency and therefore subject to
the public records law; in a revised ruling on
September 16, 2009, the appellate court clarified that
the records requested by PLN were subject to
disclosure for all but one CCA-operated state prison
in Tennessee. On remand, the trial court held on
December 1, 2011 that CCA must disclose the
remaining records at issue in the case, including
verdicts and settlements in lawsuits against the
company. CCA again appealed and the Court of
Appeals affirmed on February 28, 2013, holding the
company must produce the requested records.
Following remand, CCA settled the case in May
2013 by producing the records and paying attorney’s
fees. Alex was represented by Memphis attorney
Andrew Clarke; the case was Friedmann v. CCA.
Umatilla County, Oregon Jail Censorship Case:
PLN filed suit in federal court against Sheriff John
Trumbo and the Umatilla County Jail in Oregon in
June 2012. The jail had adopted and implemented a
policy that restricted correspondence to and from
prisoners to postcards only. The policy also
prohibited the delivery of books, catalogs,
newspapers and magazines that had not been preapproved by the jail, and did not afford due process
when publications and correspondence were
rejected. PLN accepted an offer of judgment by the

20 | P a g e

county to resolve PLN’s damages claims in August
2012, after the jail had changed its mail policy. On
May 16, 2013, the district court awarded attorneys’
fees and costs to PLN. PLN was represented by
HRDC general counsel Lance Weber and former
staff attorney Alissa Hull, Jesse Wing and Katherine
Chamberlain with the Seattle law firm of
MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, and Marc D.
Blackman with the Portland firm of Ransom
Blackman, LLP. The case was Prison Legal News v.
Umatilla County.
Upshur County, Texas Jail Censorship Suit: In
November 2012, PLN filed suit seeking injunctive
and declaratory relief, damages and attorneys’ fees
and costs against the Upshur County Jail in Texas
for censoring magazines, periodicals and mail
addressed to prisoners, in violation of the First and
Fourteenth Amendments. PLN simultaneously filed
a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the
court to prohibit the jail from continuing to censor
publications sent to prisoners. On September 30,
2013, the district court granted PLN’s motion for a
preliminary injunction, finding: “The evidence
suggests that at least some of PLN’s correspondence
with prisoners has been withheld from its intended
recipients, depriving Plaintiff of its First
Amendment rights without due process of law.” The
case settled in December 2013 with the county
agreeing to pay damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.
PLN was represented by attorneys Thomas S.
Leatherbury, Sean W. Kelly, Kimberly R. McCoy
and Marissa A. Wilson with the Dallas law firm of
Vinson & Elkins, LLP, Scott Medlock and Brian
McGiverin with the Texas Civil Rights Project, and
HRDC general counsel Lance Weber. The case was
Prison Legal News v. Betterton.
Wrongful Death Suit in Pennsylvania: HRDC
attorneys co-counseled with Jonathan Feinberg with
the Philadelphia firm of Kairys Rudovsky Messing
Feinberg in a case involving the suicide of a prisoner
at a privately-operated jail facility. The case resolved
pre-litigation pursuant to a confidential settlement
that was finalized in October 2013.

Amicus Briefs
HRDC joined in an amicus brief submitted to the
New Hampshire Supreme Court of Appeals on

December 23, 2013 in John Doe v. State of New
Hampshire. This case involved the issue of sex
offender registries, and how such registries
constitute a form of punishment applied to offenders
who already have low recidivism rates. Other amici
partners in this case included Citizens for Criminal
Justice Reform (CCJR), Citizens United for
Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), Women Against
Registry, and Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc.
HRDC also joined in an amicus brief submitted
to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 19, 2013 in
support of a petition for writ of certiorari in Matkin
v. Barrett. HRDC and other amici partners, which
included the Florida Justice Institute, National Police
Accountability Project and Southern Center for
Human Rights, asked the Supreme Court to review
an Eleventh Circuit decision that upheld strip search
policies at a jail in Fulton County, Georgia. The
certiorari petition was denied in November 2013.

Other Activities &
Campaign for Prison Phone Justice
HRDC co-founded the national Campaign for Prison
Phone Justice in 2011, with Media Action
Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) – a project of the
Center for Media Justice – and Working Narratives.
The campaign’s website is,
while HRDC maintains a site for prison phonerelated data at
In 2013, HRDC continued to pressure the FCC to
reduce the cost of prison phone calls and filed a
comprehensive comment on March 25, 2013 in
support of the Wright Petition – the proceeding
before the FCC to cap interstate prison phone rates.
HRDC also submitted a reply comment in April
2013, and encouraged individual and organizational
members of the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice
to contact the FCC. Further, in June, HRDC hired
David Ganim as our national prison phone justice
On July 10, 2013, HRDC associate director Alex
Friedmann and David Ganim attended an FCC
workshop on prison phone issues held at the
agency’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Alex
testified on a panel at the workshop; he noted that by

21 | P a g e

lowering prison phone rates, prisoners will stay
better connected with their families while
incarcerated and have increased chances of success
after they are released, resulting in lower recidivism
One month after the workshop, on August 9,
2013, the FCC voted 2 to 1 to enact a number of
prison phone industry reforms, including capping
interstate phone rates at $.21 per minute for debit
and pre-paid calls and $.25 per minute for collect
calls. Following this historic vote, PLN and HRDC
were quoted or cited nearly 20 times in newspapers,
magazines, blogs and TV stations, including the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Washington Post,, Free Press, Los Angeles Times,
Rolling Stone, Sun Sentinel, The Crime Report,, the Tennessean, USA Today and
WSMV-TV Channel 4 in Nashville.
The FCC’s order was issued in September 2013
and published in the Federal Register in November;
it will go into effect in early 2014.
In December 2013, PLN published a
comprehensive cover story on the prison phone
industry, including updated state-by-state prison
phone rates and commission-related data.
On December 20, 2013, HRDC submitted
comments on the FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking in the Wright Petition, encouraging the
FCC to extend to intrastate prison phone rates the
rate caps and other reforms related to interstate
phone calls. HRDC also urged the FCC to address
issues related to quality of prison phone services and
ancillary fees charged by prison phone companies.

Washington Prison Phone Justice Campaign
Following the success of the national Campaign for
Prison Phone Justice, and after receiving cy pres
funds from a prison phone-related class-action
lawsuit in Washington State, HRDC began to
organize its first statewide prison phone justice
campaign in Washington in late 2013.
HRDC prison phone justice director David Ganim
submitted public records requests to all 39
Washington county jails for copies of their phone
contracts, phone rates and commission data. He is
currently preparing a comprehensive report and
analysis on the cost of prison and jail phone calls in
Washington State; the report should be finalized by

In December 2013, HRDC hired Carrie
Wilkinson to direct the Washington Prison Phone
Justice Campaign, with the goal of ending prison
and jail phone commissions and reducing the cost of
intrastate phone rates in Washington state.
By the end of 2013, HRDC had partnered with
Working Narratives to develop the website for the
Washington Prison Phone Justice Campaign
(, and Carrie had started reaching
out to campaign allies in Washington, including
Columbia Legal Services. The statewide campaign is
also being promoted through PLN.

CCA and GEO Shareholder Resolutions
In November 2012, HRDC associate director Alex
Friedmann, who owns a small amount of stock in
Corrections Corporation of America, filed a
shareholder resolution with CCA related to the
company’s then-pending conversion to a real estate
investment trust (REIT). The resolution would have
required CCA to disclose certain information about
its REIT conversion to shareholders; specifically,
CCA would have to inform shareholders about its
prior conversion to a REIT in 1999, which resulted
in a drastic drop in the company’s stock price, a
reverse stock split and shareholder lawsuits.
CCA filed a no-action request with the Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking to
exclude the resolution, and the SEC ruled in the
company’s favor in March 2013. CCA subsequently
completed its conversion to a REIT.
In November 2013, Alex filed shareholder
resolutions with both CCA and GEO Group, which
would require the companies to reduce the rates
charged for inmate telephone services (ITS) at their
facilities. The resolutions noted that “prisoners who
maintain close connections with their families have a
lesser chance of reoffending after release, thereby
reducing recidivism. However, high ITS rates
impose a financial burden that impedes such
connections. Lower ITS rates would facilitate more
communication between prisoners and their families
and children.”
Specifically, the resolutions would require CCA
and GEO to forgo prison phone “commission”
kickbacks and give the greatest consideration to the
overall lowest phone charges among the factors they
consider when evaluating and entering into prison
phone contracts. GEO Group filed a no-action
request with the SEC in late December 2013, and

22 | P a g e

CCA is expected to file a similar request. The
shareholder resolutions remained pending at the end
of 2013.
Attorneys Jeffrey Lowenthal and Jonathan Burke
with the law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan,
LLP represent Alex pro bono before the SEC.

Private Prison Information Act

In response, Alex submitted rebuttal editorials to
the same newspapers that published the editorials by
Professors Hakim and Blackstone. Four of the
counter-editorials were published, in the Detroit
Free Press, Morning Sentinel (ME), Sun Sentinel
(FL) and Oklahoman between May and June 2013.
The ethics complaint filed with Temple University
remains pending.

On December 18, 2012, HRDC and UC Berkeley
doctoral student Christopher Petrella co-authored a
letter to U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee,
urging her to reintroduce the Private Prison
Information Act (PPIA) during the 113th Congress.
The PPIA would require private prison companies
that contract with federal agencies to comply with
the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the same
extent as public correctional facilities, which would
result in increased transparency and accountability at
private prisons that house federal prisoners.
Throughout 2013, HRDC and Chris worked with
Congressional staff to draft the PPIA legislation,
though it was not introduced by the end of the year.
Over 30 organizations have signed on to a letter
urging the reintroduction of the PPIA. Joining the
campaign in 2013 were the Ella Baker Center for
Human Rights, Texas Jail Project, CCPOA, Prison
Watch Network, Prison Reform Movement, National
Prison Divestment Campaign and Harvard Law
School Professor Charles Ogletree.

First Amendment Award


Collaborations and Affiliations

Temple University Ethics Complaint

HRDC collaborated with other organizations in 2013
on a variety of advocacy efforts, reports, campaigns
and other projects – including MAG-Net and
Working Narratives (Campaign for Prison Phone
Justice), the Prison Policy Initiative, Private
Corrections Institute, In the Public Interest and
Grassroots Leadership. Additionally, HRDC staff
maintained the following affiliations with other

On June 25, 2013, PLN managing editor Alex
Friedmann filed an ethics complaint with Temple
University against Professors Simon Hakim and
Erwin Blackstone, who had published a research
study lauding the benefits of prison privatization in
April 2013.
The complaint alleges that the study as initially
released did not disclose that it had been funded by
private prison companies, including industry leaders
CCA, GEO Group and MTC. The ethics complaint
further notes that Hakim and Blackstone submitted
editorials to newspapers in at least five states
regarding their research findings, and failed to
disclose in all but one of the editorials that they had
received funding from private prison companies.

On July 25, 2013, the Society of Professional
Journalists (SPJ), which is dedicated to encouraging
the free practice of journalism, upholding high
standards of ethics in that field and protecting First
Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and
the press, announced that HRDC was the recipient of
the SPJ’s annual First Amendment Award.
“The organization’s advocacy and legal action
has resulted in court victories for publishers and
hundreds of thousands of prisoners all over the
U.S.,” the SPJ noted.
HRDC was nominated for the First Amendment
Award by Ian Urbina, Washington correspondent for
The New York Times. Prior recipients of the award
have included Supreme Court Justices William
Brennan and William Douglas.
HRDC executive director Paul Wright accepted
the award at the SPJ’s Excellence in Journalism
conference on August 26, 2013.


HRDC executive director Paul Wright is a
member of the National Lawyers Guild and
serves on the board of the NLG’s National
Police Accountability Project. He is also a
member of the American Correctional
Association and American Jail Association.

23 | P a g e


HRDC associate director Alex Friedmann
serves in a volunteer, non-compensated
capacity as president of the Private
Corrections Institute, a non-profit watchdog
group that opposes prison privatization. He
also volunteers as a consultant to the
Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network and
works with the Tennessee Consultation on
Criminal Justice, serves on the advisory
board of the Prison Policy Initiative and is a
member of the National Lawyers Guild and
National CURE. At the end of 2013 he
completed a three-year term as a board
member for Reconciliation, a Nashvillebased non-profit organization that advocates
and provides services for families of
Tennessee prisoners.


HRDC general counsel Lance Weber is a
member of the National Lawyers Guild’s
National Police Accountability Project, the
First Amendment Lawyers Association, the
American Bar Association’s Civil Rights
Litigation Committee, and the American Bar
Association’s First Amendment and Media
Litigation Committee.


HRDC staff attorney Robert Jack is a
member of the National Lawyers Guild and
the NLG’s National Police Accountability


HRDC prison phone justice director
David Ganim is a member of the Broward
County Bar Association, paralegal section
and is on the stewardship committee of the
United Church of Christ-Fort Lauderdale.


HRDC maintained organizational
memberships with the Raising the Bar
Coalition and the Public Safety and Justice

and legal research for prisoners’ rights advocates,
policy makers, academics, researchers, journalists,
prisoners’ family members, attorneys and other
people involved in criminal justice and correctionsrelated issues.
Our litigation project continued to be busy
throughout 2013 due to ongoing censorship of
Prison Legal News and the books we distribute by
prison and jail officials. We anticipate filing
additional legal challenges in 2014, specifically
concerning postcard-only policies enacted by a
growing number of county jails.
Further, HRDC will continue to co-coordinate the
Campaign for Prison Phone Justice and advocate for
lower in-state prison and jail phone rates nationally.
One of our top goals for 2014 includes reopening
our Seattle office and launching the Washington
Prison Phone Justice Campaign, with the objective
of ending commission kickbacks and lowering costs
for prison and jail phone calls in Washington State.
Our book publishing plans include publishing an
updated edition of The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective
Assistance of Counsel plus one new self-help
litigation title. We continue to seek new books to
distribute that are of interest to our prisoner
readership, and encourage book ideas and
submissions from qualified authors.
Another major goal for 2014 is to revamp and
modernize HRDC’s three websites, which include
the HRDC, Prison Legal News and Prison Phone
Justice sites. Other ongoing goals include building
HRDC’s organizational capacity, expanding our
fundraising efforts and funding sources, and
continuing to advocate for criminal justice reforms
that are critical but largely ignored, including issues
related to the federal Bureau of Prisons and the
environmental impact of correctional facilities.

Looking Forward: Goals for 2014
We are pleased with HRDC’s progress during 2013
in terms of our media outreach, litigation project and
advocacy efforts, among other activities. PLN’s
website continues to be an important source of news

Rally against over-priced phone rates in
prisons organized by HRDC, Nov 2012

24 | P a g e

Recent news
articles published
about PLN and HRDC
Justice Watch: Prison Legal News is
Filing, Winning Federal Lawsuits
By John Pacenti
Daily Business Review
December 20, 2013

The October issue of Prison Legal News contained one story
entitled, “How many inmate deaths is too many?”
Another article addressed a Justice Department investigation
into widespread sexual abuse in Alabama women’s prisons by
male guards, while another took a look at what led to a
mentally ill prisoner in Illinois to die on a hunger strike.
Sprinkled throughout the edition were advertisements offering,
for instance, the newest edition of “The Prisoner’s Self-Help
Litigation Manual.”
Every issue of Prison Legal News contains news inmates can
use, but many jails and some prisons don’t want them to have

incoming mail to be on postcards—a get-tough-on-criminals
approach started by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in
The litigation assigned to U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez
in Fort Pierce claims the policy is unconstitutional because it
de facto bans Prison Legal News.
Its “publications, books and other materials ... are political
speech and social commentary, which are at the core of First
Amendment values and are entitled to the highest protection
afforded by the U.S. Constitution,” according to the lawsuit.
Adam Fetterman, an attorney with the St. Lucie Sheriff’s
Department, said he is reviewing the case.

Paul Wright, who started the publication from his Washington
state jail cell in the 1990s, has fought back, filing dozens of
lawsuits against state and counties across the country in the
last decade. He has recently moved operations from Vermont
to Lake Worth.

“Despite numerous outside cases by Prison Legal News, there
are a number of court decisions that are favorable to the sheriff
in regards to security issues,” he said.

Wright is the founder and executive director of the Human
Rights Defense Center and editor of Prison Legal News. He
challenges corrections policies keeping out his publication and
other types of correspondence—even letters from family and

In 1994, Wright reported then-Republican U.S. Rep. Jack
Metcalf was using prison labor to staff his get-out-the-vote
telemarketing campaign. Two years later, Wright exposed how
Microsoft Corp. was using prison labor to package some of its

Wright served 17 years in prison after being convicted of
killing a man in the robbery of a cocaine dealer when he was
21. By the time he was released in 2003, Prison Legal News
was more than a decade old and had broken numerous stories
about inmate exploitation.

Then in 2006, Prison Legal News, which also goes by PLN,
revealed the Kansas Department of Corrections employed
relatives of the founder of the extremist Westboro Baptist
Church of Topeka, Kan. The church is known for picketing
the funerals of U.S. soldiers and gay murder victims.

The magazine and its parent, Human Rights Defense Center,
filed its latest legal salvo last week, a federal complaint
against St. Lucie County Sheriff Kenneth J. Mascara.

St. Lucie is hardly the only legal battle being waged by
Wright. In total, Wright and his organization have filed about
two dozen lawsuits across the country since 2000 to get the
publication into the hands of inmates. They usually end in
consent decrees or policy changes.

The lawsuit challenges a department policy requiring all

So why are prisons and jails so worried about inmates reading

Wright’s newsprint magazine is serious journalism.

a magazine highlighting issues important to them?
Mission to educate
“I can only guess that prison officials are worried about being
held accountable for their actions because PLN’s mission is to
educate prisoners about the legal system and their rights and
sort of give them hope and obtain relief for constitutional
violations by using the judicial system,” said Lance Weber,
general counsel for the Human Rights Defense Center.
The magazine has about 9,000 subscribers and gets passed
around so much by inmates that Weber estimates readership at
100,000 per issue.
The suit against the St. Lucie sheriff claims the jail also is
rejecting books to help inmates file pro se pleadings, turning
away 31 copies of a book on the subject from February 2012
to August 2013.
As a result, the inmates’ constitutional right to free speech and
their due process rights under the 14th Amendment are being
violated, the suit claims.

Postcard-only policies are counterintuitive to Weber. He noted
many people in jail are there for the first time, either waiting
for court proceedings or serving minor sentences. They are
often battling addiction and chaos at home, and trying to
become employable after they get out. He said curtailing
correspondence short circuits the re-entry process.

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“Postcard-only policies are cutting off communication and
getting in the way of rehabilitation,” Weber said.
Florida sued
Attorney Randall Berg, executive director of the Florida
Justice Institute in Miami, said his organization has teamed up
with Wright to challenge prisons and jails on mail policy in
lawsuits in Florida.
“Why don’t you want these people to educate themselves?”
Berg asked. “They need to know stuff that’s dealing with their
health and safety, their legal rights.”
The St. Lucie lawsuit is not challenging the need to review
inmate mail, but Berg said a liberal mailing policy is important
for jail inmates to keep employment avenues open as well.
He noted the U.S. Bureau of Prisons doesn’t have Draconian
policies on correspondence and neither do most state prisons.
“If prisoners in state and federal facilities are allowed to
receive letters and books, pre-trial detainees should be able to
do so, as well,” he said.
Not all state prisons are playing ball with Prison Legal News.
Weber said Florida reneged on a deal made in 2004 to allow
the publication over the wall.

“They claim the reason is the content of our advertising. PLN
carries ads for services prisoners are not allowed, such as for
pen pals and stamps,” Weber said. “Other states have policies
like that, but they don’t ban PLN. They ban correspondence
with the vendor.”
The lawsuit is pending in Tallahassee federal court.


Battling Censorship Behind Bars
How Prisons and Jails Are Barring Inmates’ Access
to Legal News, Literature, and Letters
By Andrea Jones
The American Reader
May 2013

In November 2008, a mail-order book addressed to Lou
Johnson arrived at the Hilltop Unit, a state prison for women
located in Gatesville, central Texas. Written by investigative
journalist Silja Talvi, the book was titled Women Behind Bars:
The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System, and
chronicled the past decades’ sweeping upsurge in female
incarceration as told through the stories of prisoners across the
country. Talvi’s interviews cast light on the common threads
of trauma and abuse these women shared, the increase in
nonviolent drug charges that put them behind bars, and the
troubling conditions they found inside.
Johnson, one of the women interviewed for the project,
described the harsh and humiliating circumstances she
endured at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ)
facility. Denied adequate medical care, refused meals for
minor infractions such as talking in line, and forced to clean
pipe chases “covered with fecal material” without gloves,
Johnson summed up her experience as “cruel and unusual
But Johnson was barred from reading her own account in
print, as well as from accessing the testimonies of the one
hundred other female prisoners interviewed for Women Behind
Bars. By the time her copy arrived at the Hilltop Unit
mailroom, the book had already been censored at another
TDCJ facility. Johnson received a form explaining that an
offending passage on page 38 depicted “sex with a minor,”
therefore the publication as a whole was “detrimental to
offenders’ rehabilitation” because it would encourage “deviant
criminal behavior.” She attempted to appeal the decision to no
avail; having never received the book to review the contents of
page 38, she was in no position to present a compelling
“Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates
from the protections of the Constitution,” the U.S. Supreme
Court found in its 1987 Turner v. Safley decision. While
inmates are not entitled to full First Amendment rights, any
encroachment on their freedom of speech must be “reasonably
related to legitimate penological objectives.”
While both publishers and prisoners have standing to
challenge prison censorship policies that restrict opportunities
to send and receive literature, in practice publishers are far
better equipped—they are free from the legal restrictions that
bind the incarcerated, and can actually access the material in
question. But commercial magazines and booksellers rarely
act upon notice that the material they’ve mailed has been
seized or withheld; prison inmates don’t represent a
sufficiently marketable demographic.

Images of California's extreme prison overcrowding

Women Behind Bars, however, was distributed by Prison
Legal News (PLN), which, as the only national publication
whose majority of contributors and subscribers are state and
federal prisoners, is deeply invested in combating prison
censorship. “That’s our core constituency,” says editor Paul
Wright. Wright founded the magazine in 1990 while serving
out a sentence for first-degree murder in Washington State. As
a twenty-one-year-old military policeman, Wright was broke
and a week away from completing his service when he tried to
rob a cocaine dealer who turned out to have a gun. Wright
panicked and shot first, and was sentenced to twenty-five
In prison, he worked as a book fetcher at the facility’s law
library, and grew interested in prison conditions litigation.
With fellow inmate Ed Mead, he began PLN as a ten-page
hand-typed newsletter with a readership of just seventy-five
aimed at raising political consciousness and informing
prisoners of their rights. The censorship was immediate. In
1991, Wright reported on pervasive racism at Washington’s
Clallam Bay Corrections Center, and a specific incident in
which a group of white guards brutalized a black inmate.
Prison authorities redacted the incriminating sections for
circulation inside Clallam Bay, and when they found out that
PLN had been distributed to subscribers outside of the facility,
subjected Wright to three weeks of solitary confinement.
Wright, who was released in 2003 after serving seventeen
years of his twenty-five year sentence, says that over the past
few decades, censorship practices in prisons and jails have
grown startlingly worse. PLN—which now has 7,000 print
subscribers in all fifty states, with reader surveys indicating
that each issue is passed around to ten different inmates—has
faced blanket censorship in over ten state prisons systems, and
countless bans in local jails across the country. The magazine
was impelled to establish the Human Rights Defense Center, a
legal nonprofit dedicated to protecting subscribers’ right to
read. It also launched a book publishing operation to distribute
titles that, despite limited commercial appeal, are vital to
incarcerated populations, such as Prisoners’ Self Help
Litigation Manual, Hepatitis and Liver Disease: What You
Need to Know, and Beyond Bars: Rejoining Society After

Prison. Which brings us back to Texas.
Page 38 of Women Behind Bars, it turned out, described the
childhood ordeals faced by Tina Thomas, a neurologist and
professor in a teaching college who battled drug addiction late
in her career:
What is even more remarkable about Thomas is that
she had overcome the kind of childhood trauma that
might have completely derailed her adult life. It
might have been precisely that background that first
propelled her to become an overachiever and attain a
high level of professional success, but then came
back to haunt her just as she had gotten to where she
wanted to go. The dark secret of her life was that she
had been forced to perform fellatio on her uncle when
she was just four years old. Thomas explains that this
unresolved trauma became “the template for a
lifetime of distrust, fear, uncertainty, and a spirit of
“Fellatio” was the word flagged by TDCJ as depicting “sex
with a minor.” Despite the fact that the controversial passage
was more likely to prevail upon readers who had endured
similar traumas that theirs was not a solitary struggle, Women
Behind Bars was withheld from Texas prisoners for its
purported encouragement of “deviant criminal behavior.”
In 2009, PLN filed a lawsuit against TDCJ for censoring
Women Behind Bars, as well as additional incarcerationrelated books it had attempted to send to prisoners in Texas.
The complaint alleged what amounted to pretextual
censorship: the statewide system—the largest in the country—
was using cherry-picked words or phrases as grounds to ban
entire books, many of which were literary classics, awardwinners, or collections of artwork. Even more unsettling was
the department’s widespread censorship of works discussing
civil rights issues, and works critical of prison conditions or
corruption. In the course of litigation TDCJ’s banned books
list finally surfaced; it included nearly 12,000 volumes.
On its face, the prison system’s policy set off few alarms. The
policy called for banning books containing contraband;
instructions for the manufacture of explosives, weapons, or
drugs; suggestions for escape schemes; sexually explicit
images; material designed to provoke strikes, gang violence,
or rioting; and subject matter encouraging deviant criminal
sexual behavior.
These rules were twisted, however, to lift passages or images
out of context, and once one facility banned a text, it was
prohibited on a statewide scale. Each book was allowed only
one appeal (often undertaken by inmates in the same Catch-22
scenario as Johnson) before being permanently censored.
As noted by the Texas Civil Rights Project, the majority of
banned books fell into the two most nebulous threat
categories: promoting deviant sexual behavior, and inciting
disorder through strikes, gang violence, or riots. Wide tracts of
literature grappling with challenging themes like race, sex, and

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poverty were denied at the discretion of prison authorities,
with no clear link to penological objectives. Books by Pulitzer
Prize-winning authors like Jeffrey Eugenides, Sinclair Lewis,
Norman Mailer, Annie Proulx, Philip Roth, Art Spiegelman,
Wallace Stegner, John Updike, Robert Penn Warren, and
Alice Walker were deemed unfit. The Color Purple, for
example, was banned for its opening scene of sexual abuse—
Celie’s ensuing struggle for empowerment amid racism and
patriarchy were of no value according to TDCJ’s mailroom
Some denials were so absurd they barely merit mention (the
Renaissance painting depicting a naked Cupid on the cover of
Shakespeare and Love Sonnets as “sexually explicit,” for
instance). But broad trends were evident. Racial slurs, in
allegedly threatening to ignite antagonisms, were identified as
an easy premise for censorship, never mind the historical
context in which they were cited. Kevin Boyle’s Arc of
Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz
Age—which traces the trial of Ossian Sweet and residential
segregation in 1925 Detroit—was censored because of slurs
attributed to members of a white mob: “‘There goes some
niggers now,’ came the cries. ‘Lynch them! Kill them!’ A
gang of white men surged toward the car…” Far from inciting
violence, Boyle’s account gives insight into one of the
century’s great civil rights campaigns, and was a recipient of
the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Simon
Wiesenthal Center’s Tolerance Book Award.

Even in explicitly anti-racist frames of reference, like a
segment on freedom of expression from Chomsky on
Anarchism, the inclusion of derogatory language led to the
work to be condemned:
“[V]ictories for freedom of speech are often won in
defense of the most depraved and horrendous views.
The 1969 Supreme Court decision was in defense of
the Ku Klux Klan from prosecution after meeting
with hooded figures, guns, and a burning cross,
calling for ‘burying the nigger,’ and ‘sending the
Jews back to Israel.’ With regard to freedom of
speech there are basically two positions: you defend
it vigorously for views you hate, or you reject it.”
Chomsky was censored for using racist language to prove a
point, denouncing the “depraved and horrendous views”
associated with it, while publications like Mein Kampf and
The Aryan Youth Primer: Official Handbook for Schooling the
Hitler Youth were somehow accepted by TDCJ without
Books incriminating prison institutions were overwhelmingly
censored for mentioning rape, despite the topic’s critical
relevance. Prison Masculinities, a collection of essays edited
by prison mental health experts, was banned for its candid
discussion of sexual assault and violence behind bars. The
Perpetual Prisoner Machine, a look into the profit motives
driving mass incarceration, was barred for quoting a 1968
report from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on the
problem’s prevalence in local jails. Even self-help and
rehabilitative titles about the prevention of violent sexual
behavior, like Stopping Rape: A Challenge for Men, and
Conspiracy of Silence: The Trauma of Incest, were prohibited
by TDCJ.
“Prison authorities like docile, uninformed masses of people
because they’re easier to control and dominate,” says Wright.
“You can’t divorce the issue of prison censorship from prison
education. These policy choices ensure that prisoners, the
majority of whom have very low literacy levels, are going to
remain that way.” According to the Department of Education,
“incarcerated adults have among the lowest academic skill
levels and highest disability and illiteracy rates of any segment
of our society.” Multiple studies have demonstrated that
educational programming improves prison safety and reduces
recidivism rates by providing problem-solving skills and
minimizing tensions inside facilities, while preparing inmates
for employment and community reintegration upon release. A
2004 study published in the Journal of Correctional Education
collected a decade’s worth of research on post-secondary
correctional education (PSCE), finding that “inmates who
participated in PSCE recidivated 22 percent of the time and
those not participating in PSCE had a recidivism rate of 41
Although the number of Americans in state and federal prison
systems has quintupled since 1980, funding for education
behind bars has declined dramatically. President Clinton’s
legislation designating anyone incarcerated in federal or state

The prison system’s idea of individualized mental health care in
an over-crowded California facility

correctional facilities ineligible to receive Pell Grants in 1994
was the “death knell of higher education for prisoners,” says
David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.
With responsibility for correctional education transferred to
states now mired in budgetary crises, prisoners’ ability to selfeducate becomes all the more essential. But in Texas, book
denials continue to increase as inmate populations level off,
and in states across the country, censorship in prisons and jails
has outpaced growth.
In June 2012, a judge for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
found that TDCJ’s censorship policies did not violate PLN’s
First Amendment rights to distribute books critical of the
prison system to Texas inmates. While Women Behind Bars
was eventually taken off the banned books list in the course of
the lawsuit, 12,000 titles remain. While acknowledging the
disparity between TDCJ’s policy and practice, Judge Edith
Brown Clement showed deference to prison administrators,
contending that the role of the federal courts is not to “sit as
permanent appeals councils reviewing every individual
censorship decision made by state corrections institutions.”
But according to Wright, because “the legislative and
executive branches are paralyzed when it comes to criminal
justice issues, we’re left with piecemeal litigation as our only
mode to address this, subject to the whims and mercy of the
court.” He adds, “There’s not going to be any meaningful
challenge of the books that have been censored.”
While PLN has achieved major victories—the magazine has
obtained consent decrees in nine states compelling prisons to
deliver to subscribers—the decentralized structure of our penal
system means the campaign is never-ending. In Michigan,
Georgia, and Arizona county jails, PLN is currently
challenging “postcard policies,” a draconian new trend that
limits incoming and outgoing mail to what can fit on a
postcard. Not only are postcards more expensive than letters
sent in envelopes, but they stifle correspondence between
incarcerated people and their families and communities by
airing in plain sight content that might be medical, financial,
or personal. Such restrictions strain social ties that have
proven pivotal in successful reentry. According to PLN

managing editor Alex Friedmann, postcard policies are “just
another way for facilities to reduce communication, and thus
criticism.” Because jails—where those pending trial or serving
shorter sentences are usually held—are local operations
outside the scope of the state system, they tend to display the
most egregious cases of censorship (with the ACLU, PLN
recently won a case against a South Carolina jail that outlawed
all reading material outside of the Bible). Without centralized
policy to dispute, PLN must litigate on a case-by-case basis.
PLN is also currently up against the Florida Department of
Corrections (FDOC), which censors the magazine on the basis
of its advertising content—PLN carries ads for pen-pal
programs and discount telephone services that the FDOC does
not allow. Claiming a nexus between censoring PLN and
preventing services that the magazine advertises for but does
not actually provide, the FDOC has asserted a threat to prison
security. “They’re completely relieved of any evidentiary
burden,” Wright notes. “You say this is going to happen, but
where’s the evidence?”
As with book banning in Texas, Friedmann contends it’s a
pretext: “They don’t like our content regarding misconduct
and corruption by prison officials.” He points out that ads are
incidental to the content of the magazine itself, and that other
publications advertise prohibited material without any
problem, like TIME, which runs ads for cigarettes. It’s true
that PLN’s coverage of the FDOC has been uncompromising.
In 1999, the magazine reported on Frank Valdez, an outspoken
inmate who allegedly contacted the media about abuses at
Florida State Prison (FSP) under then warden James Crosby.
Valdez was found stomped to death inside his cell. The guards
charged in Valdez’s death were bafflingly acquitted by a jury
in a North Florida town where FSP was a leading employer,
despite evidence of their boot prints on his back. PLN covered
Florida’s negligent treatment of mentally ill prisoners, and
published a series tracking a corruption scandal that erupted in
2006, involving guards dealing steroids, sexual assault, and
the sentencing of Crosby—who by that point had been
promoted to FDOC Secretary—to eight years for accepting
bribes. “These are things PLN has done a pretty good job of
reporting on over the years,” Wright explains. “None of which
have ingratiated us to prison officials.” A trial is scheduled for
Wright sees the censorship plaguing prisons not as an isolated
trend, but rather as representative of the increasing
encroachment of the American police state. He lists changes
he’s observed on the outside since his reentry in 2003: the
aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, retaliatory arrests
for videotaping police officers, even increases in Google
takedown requests issued by government agencies. “I think
this is part of a greater silencing,” he explains, “but with
prisoners it’s a bit more pronounced because they’re a more
vulnerable population.” Indeed, it’s difficult to determine what
legitimate penological objectives are advanced by restricting
prisoners—95 percent of whom will eventually be released
into their communities—from accessing literature, staying
apprised of their rights, communicating with their families,
and resisting alienation through journals like PLN.

Prisoners undergoing group therapy in an over-crowded prison

Policy Change Lets Inmates Receive
Magazines, Books in Mail
By Janine Anderson
Kenosha News, Wisconsin
June 26, 2014

Magazines, books and other publications now can be sent
directly to inmates in Kenosha County’s detention facilities
after the county agreed to change its policy following a federal
Prison Legal News sued the county last summer, claiming the
county’s policy prohibiting delivery of periodicals, magazines,
books and other publications violated rights granted by the
First Amendment. Prison Legal News publishes and
distributes a journal of corrections news and analysis, as well
as books about the criminal justice system.
The company mailed copies of its publication and some softcover books to 29 specific prisoners in the Kenosha County
Jail, and they were rejected and returned with stamps reading
“refused” and “return to sender,” along with a white sticker
with a checked box indicating “no books/magazines,”
according to the complaint filed in federal district court.
The county and Prison Legal News reached a settlement, part
of which required the Sheriff’s Department to change its
policy on publications that can be sent to inmates. According
to the settlement, the county continues to “dispute and deny
liability” but agreed to settle to “avoid the expense, delay,
uncertainty, and burden of litigation.”
The county’s attorney, Ryan Braithwaite, said the new policy
allowing publications to be sent to inmates has been in place
since the end of January. The old policy was put in place in
1985, he said.
“There weren’t really any issues, so nothing was brought to
(the county’s) attention until the lawsuit was brought,” he said.
“We immediately looked at it, realized it was out of date and
updated it to allow magazines and books with some
restrictions on content.”

Braithwaite said nobody knew why the old policy was put in
place, but he said there was “a concern about staples that was
mentioned.” The new policy includes content restrictions for
things like information that would pose a threat to the safety or
welfare of the institution or if there was sexual or lewd
Prison Legal News attorney Jon Loevy commended the county
“for fixing an unconstitutional policy and bringing it into
“To their credit, rather than spending taxpayer money fighting
a losing battle, they decided to make the policy compliant with
the First Amendment,” he said. “Prisoners have rights, too.
Nobody wants to live in a society where even incarcerated
people are censored or denied access to materials about what’s
going on in the world.”
That publication is now being delivered to inmates, Loevy
Another part of the settlement was monetary. The county
agreed to pay $116,500 to Prison Legal News.
Braithwaite called that “the ransom that Prison Legal News
demanded.” Federal law allows plaintiffs to recover attorney’s
fees, and Loevy said that’s what the payment covered.
Terms of the settlement
The county will pay Prison Legal News $116,500. Prison
Legal News’ journal and its other books and publications will
be delivered to inmates and detainees at the jail. The county
will no longer have any “blanket bans” on books, magazines,
newspapers or other publications sent to inmates or detainees.
If publications, correspondence or documents are rejected,
senders and recipients shall receive written notice and
information about how to appeal the decision. The county
must also post the new policy in the jail and detention facility,
include it in the inmate handbook and post it online.
However, the policy is not yet available on the jail website.



Federal Court Rules Postcard-Only
Policy in Ventura County Jails is
By Cindy Von Quednow
Ventura County Star, California
May 30, 2014

A U.S. District Court has ruled that the Ventura County
Sheriff’s Office policy that allows jail inmates to receive only
postcards is unconstitutional.
The policy prevents inmates from receiving mail such as
Prison Legal News, which responded by suing Sheriff Geoff
Dean, Assistant Sheriff Gary Pentis and commanders in
charge of the county’s two jails.
“We are very pleased the judge is upholding the constitution,”
Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News, said in a statement.
Ernest Galvan, an attorney representing the publication, had
previously told The Star that the policy violates First
Amendment rights of inmates and their loved ones outside of
jail partly because they cannot receive mail that could be
beneficial to their future.
Prison Legal News, a project of the Florida-based Human
Rights Defense Center, focuses on inmate rights, court rulings
and news regarding correctional facilities across the country.
The publication — sent to inmates, attorneys and others
nationwide — has successfully challenged similar jail policies
in South Carolina, Georgia and Texas, officials said. No other
jail in California apparently has such a policy.
A motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the postcardonly practice was granted Thursday. The Sheriff’s Office now
has 21 days to suspend the policy for incoming mail and has
30 days to file an appeal. It also must give senders of rejected
mail a written notice and opportunity to appeal the rejection.
The postcard-only policy was adopted in October 2010 to
prevent drugs, weapons and large amounts of cash from being
smuggled into jail in envelopes, officials say.
Postcards sent to the two jails must be no larger than 6 by 11
inches. Magazines, newspapers, books, packages and booklets
are allowed only if sent directly from the publisher or an
authorized retail distributor, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Everything sent to the jail is subject to inspection and will be
returned to the sender if it does not meet the requirements.
Officials originally prevented inmates from sending outgoing
mail in envelopes as well but later dropped that restriction.
In a 2012 lawsuit, inmates represented by the Ventura County
Public Defender’s Office alleged the postcards-only policy
limited their ability to communicate with clergy, doctors,
relatives and friends. The policy, however, was upheld by a
Ventura County Superior Court judge.


Texas Court Rules CCA is a
“Governmental Body” in PLN Public
Records Suit
Private Prison Must Provide Information
Courthouse News Service
March 20, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) - A state judge ruled Wednesday that
the nation’s largest private prison company, the Corrections
Corporation of America, is a “governmental body” for
purposes of the Texas Public Information Act, “and subject to
[the] Act’s obligations to disclose public information.”
Prison Legal News sued CCA in Travis County Court in May
2013, seeking records on the Dawson State Jail in Dallas,
which has closed. Prison Legal News, which publishes a
monthly magazine, is a project of the nonprofit Human Rights
Defense Center.
Prison Legal News said in a statement after the Wednesday
ruling that the information it sought “would have
unquestionably been made public had the jail been operated by
a government agency.”
Private prisons in general, and CCA in particular, have come
under fire from human rights workers as a way for states to
dodge oversight and accountability. The Nashville-based
prison company is paid per body per day, with the money
coming from the governmental bodies that imprison the
people. Yet the company and the states generally claim that
how the public money is spent is not the public’s business.
“This is one of the many failings of private prisons,” Prison
Legal News managing editor Alex Friedmann said in the
statement. “By contracting with private companies,
corrections officials interfere with the public’s right to know
what is happening in prisons and jails, even though the
contracts are funded with taxpayer money. This lack of
transparency contributes to abuses and misconduct by forprofit companies like CCA, which prefer secrecy over public
CCA runs nine prisons in Texas, four of them for state
prisoners. The company is also very much into running
immigration prisons.
“The conditions of Texas prisons have been the focus of
intense public scrutiny for nearly 40 years,” Brian McGiverin,
an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, said in the
statement. “Today’s ruling is a victory for transparency and
responsible government. Texans have a right to know what
their government is doing, even when a private company is
hired to do it.”
Prison Legal News argued in its lawsuit: ““Incarceration is
inherently a power of government. By using public money to
perform a public function, CCA is a governmental body” for

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purposes of the Texas Public Information Act.
Judge Charles Ramsay agreed, in a 1-page order granting
summary judgment.


Department of Corrections to Pay
$740,000 in Inmate’s Death
By Brian M. Rosenthal
Seattle Times
April 2, 2014

The state Department of Corrections has agreed to pay
$740,000 to the family of an inmate who died in custody after
suffering from a painful and treatable illness.
Ricardo Mejia, 26, died in January 2011 after developing
flesh-eating bacteria so severe that it eventually forced doctors
to remove his rectum. But before it came to that, he had
complained for weeks about pain and a rash, state records
The former inmate’s family claimed in a lawsuit that the staff
at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla
misdiagnosed the problem.

“While in state custody, Ricardo Mejia’s medical providers
ignored obvious signs of infection and serious illness and he
literally rotted to death under their care through negligence
and deliberate indifference,” according to the lawsuit.
One of those providers, physician assistant Kenneth Moore,
was charged with unprofessional conduct by a Department of
Health commission, but the charge was dismissed. He is still
working at the prison, according to the state.
The settlement did not include an admission of wrongdoing. A
state Department of Health investigation into the death earlier
found “deficiencies” in Mejia’s care.
The death caused the Department of Corrections (DOC) to
order several changes at the prison, including more clearly
identifying a doctor for each inmate, ensuring each admission
to the medical unit is discussed with supervisors, establishing
regular weekday medical-staff meetings and educating all staff
about flesh-eating bacteria, spokeswoman Norah West said.

He saw prison-medical staff 14 times between Nov. 29, 2010,
and Jan. 10, 2011, but continued to report being in pain.

“Anytime an incident like this occurs, we take it very
seriously,” West said.

On Jan. 11, he said he had a “medical emergency” and was
eventually admitted to the prison’s medical unit.

Janelle Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney
General’s Office, said the office could not say how the amount
of the settlement compared with others involving DOC.

On the morning of Jan. 15, Moore, the physician assistant,
“noted that he anticipated (Mejia) would improve and return to
inmate housing within a few days,” according to the

Paul Wright, executive director of the Human Rights Defense
Center, which represented the family in the lawsuit, said this
was one of the state’s biggest-ever settlements related to the
medical treatment of an inmate.

Mejia was taken to a nearby hospital that afternoon and
airlifted that evening to Sacred Heart Medical Center in
Spokane, where he had surgery. He died the next day.

More important, he said the case is notable because it shows
that officials have not done enough to combat the “dismal
state of medical care in Washington state prisons.”
Wright, a former inmate himself who served 17 years for
murder, said “The news is that, after all the litigation, all the
news coverage, very little has changed.”
He pointed in particular to the case of Charlie Manning, a
Mason County man who lost his penis and a testicle to flesheating bacteria while at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in
Aberdeen, serving a 13-month sentence for threatening his
neighbor and stealing the man’s pistol in a drunken argument.

Condition of a cell in an overcrowded prison

Mejia’s children will benefit from the settlement.
Although the settlement was finalized in December, family
members waited to publicize it until receiving the money
because they were afraid the state would not follow through
with the agreement, Wright said.


Manning received $300,000 in a 2008 settlement. “Whatever
they did (after the Manning settlement), if they did anything,”
Wright said, “obviously didn’t help Ricardo Mejia.”

Columbia County Must Pay $802,000 In
Legal Costs Over Unconstitutional
Inmate-Mail Policy, Judge Says

West, the spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections,
said she didn’t know if anything was changed after the
Manning case.

By Helen Jung
The Oregonian
March 25, 2014

Mejia, who was in prison on a murder, had a history of rectal
bleeding and was treated for a rash and other problems starting
in the fall of 2010, according to a Department of Health

[On March 26 the article was updated with a comment from an
attorney representing Columbia County and additional details.]

A federal judge has ordered Columbia County to pay more
than $800,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to Prison Legal
News, after the publication prevailed in its lawsuit challenging

the constitutionality of the county jail’s inmate mail policies.
U.S. District Judge Michael Simon largely turned aside the
county’s arguments to deny or slash the requested fees and
costs to Prison Legal News, a monthly magazine published by
the Human Rights Defense Center, which advocates for
prisoners’ rights. He said their attorneys’ fees were reasonable
and in line with the market rate, although the award is 10
percent lower than what the plaintiffs sought.
The order, issued Monday, comes almost a year after Simon
sided with Prison Legal News in finding that the Columbia
County jail’s policy of allowing only postcards to be delivered
to inmates violated the 1st Amendment. He permanently
blocked the jail from implementing the postcard-only policy,
which he said, lacked a “common-sense connection” with its
supposed goal of enhancing security. The jail already had been
opening and inspecting mail and officials conceded there was
not a known problem of people sending contraband through
Instead, the policy blocked inmates from receiving items such
as children’s report cards, medical records, bills and news
articles, Simon noted in his findings of fact.
Simon also declared the jail’s practice of not delivering
magazines, including the monthly Prison Legal News,
similarly violated the 1st Amendment. He also found that the
jail’s failure to notify inmates that their mail has been rejected
nor provide a way to appeal such rejections, violated their 14th
Amendment right to due process.
After Simon’s decision, the county agreed to pay $15,000 to
Prison Legal News for damages it sustained in not being able
to deliver its publication. Prison Legal News then also sought
$848,670.50 for attorneys’ fees.
Simon opted to award 90 percent of that sum -- $763,803.45 -in attorney fees to the plaintiff’s legal team of five lawyers and
four paralegals. The attorneys’ rates ranged from $210 for an
attorney with two years of experience to $400 an hour for two
lawyers with decades of experience. The paralegals’ rates
ranged from $90 an hour to $175 an hour for an
investigator/senior paralegal.
He shaved off 10 percent over concerns regarding the number
of hours spent on a few tasks. He also ordered the county to
cover all $38,373.01 in litigation costs.
The postcard-only policy that Simon declared unconstitutional
has been adopted by many jails across the country. Prison
Legal News has sued jails in other states over the policy,
reportedly adopted first by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe
Arpaio in Arizona.
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson declined to comment.
But Steve Kraemer, an attorney representing the county, said
in an email “we were surprised and disappointed in the
amount of attorney fees awarded, especially considering the
Sheriff only enacted the postcard policy after receiving

reliable and accurate information that similar policies had
been held constitutional in other states,” he said. He added that
the county had admitted many of the constitutional violations
alleged by the plaintiff, “made immediate changes to its
procedures,” and had offered Prison Legal News more than
what they ultimately paid to compensate the publication for its
damages. Prison Legal News rejected the offer.
But the defendants’ offer for $21,000 did not include an
agreement to a judgment declaring the mail policies
unconstitutional. Nor were the defendants willing to accept a
permanent injunction blocking Dickerson -- or anyone else
elected to the sheriff position -- from reinstating the postcardonly policy, the publication argued in its filings.
The county’s insurance carrier has not yet decided whether to
appeal the attorney fee award, Kraemer said.
Getting paid for your work is certainly welcome, said Jesse
Wing, one of the attorneys who represented Prison Legal
News. But the significance of the case comes from Simon’s
declaration of the unconstitutionality of the postcard-only
“There’s literally thousands and thousands of people who
benefit from a ruling like this,” he said. “From our
perspective, it was a really poor choice for Columbia County
to take this stand.”


Inmate Mail Censorship Case Settled
By Mac Overton
The Gilmer Mirror, Upshur County, Texas
March 2014

A lawsuit, alleging censorship of inmate mail by the Upshur
County Jail, has been settled in the plaintiff’s favor.
Prison Legal News settled the lawsuit for $175,000.
Named as defendants in the suit, which was filed in October,
2012, were the county, Sheriff Anthony Betterton and
Sheriff’s Lt. Jill McCauley.
The suit stated that Upshur County Jail’s inmate handbook
contained “no written criteria explaining when a publication
will be rejected,” and the jail’s mail policy “did not provide a
sender any notice or explanation when a book is censored,”
stated a story in the February, 2014, edition of Prison Legal
News (PLN), reporting the settlement.
The story stated that PLN had mailed copies of its monthly
magazine to prisoners at the Upshur County Jail, as well as
letters, renewal notices, brochures and copies of a book,
Protecting Your Health and Safety.
The article said that the jail rejected about 90 of PLN’s

publications over a one-year period, stamping them “No
Newspaper,” “Unauthorized Mail,” “Not Approved,” or
The article said “the jail also rejected legal mail sent to
prisoners by PLN’s attorney. No notice was provided
regarding this censorship, and PLN was not afforded an
opportunity to appeal the rejection of its publications.
Lance Weber, general counsel for the Human Rights Defense
Center (HRDC), the nonprofit parent of PLN was quoted in
the article as saying “The purpose of jail is to hold the
criminally accused for trial, not to punish them. Depriving
pretrial detainees too poor to afford bail, who are presumed
innocent—of access to information that could assist them in
enforcing their rights is inexcusable.”
The article reported that on Sept. 30, 2013, a federal district
court granted PLN’s motion for a preliminary injunction,
finding that the withholding of at least some of the
correspondence with prisoners “deprived the plaintiff, PLN, of
its First Amendment rights without due process of law.”
While the jail had adopted a new mail policy before the
granting of the preliminary injunction, and the court said that
was a “clear improvement,” but that it “still falls short of
establishing the minimum procedural safeguards
constitutionally required to protect PLN’s First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights without due process of law.”
The court also held that PLN was likely to prevail on the
merits, and “Upshur County subsequently agreed to settle.”
The consent decree settling the case provides that the county
will “implement a new Correspondence and Incoming
Publication Plan at the jail, to include “disseminating a copy
of the New Policy to all employees of the Upshur County Jail
and confirming that each recipient has read the same,
disseminating the New Policy to members of the general
public by posting it conspicuously on a website maintained by
or on behalf of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, and
disseminating a copy of the New Policy to inmates by
including it in the inmate handbook and by posting a copy in
common areas for at least 14 days.”
The new jail policy provides that prisoners can receive
periodicals, books, newspapers, brochures, magazines and
other correspondence— “subject to specified security
concerns.” It also provides that “both prisoners and those who
send them mail will receive notification of any censorship by
jail staff, and will have the opportunity to appeal same.”
The county also agreed to pay $175,000 in damages, costs and
attorneys’ fees.
PLN editor Paul Wright was quoted in the article as saying
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case, though it could
have been resolved much earlier, at much lower cost to
Upshur County, had county officials acknowledged that the
previous mail policy in effect at the jail was inadequate.”

Counsel Weber told The Mirror that “they fought us hard to
keep us from being able to reveal that number.”
He said that they told the county’s attorneys that the
settlement was public record, and that they would use it in
their own magazine.
“We’ve already got the funds,” Weber said. “The case is
closed up.”
Upshur County Judge Dean Fowler said the decision to settle
was made by the county’s insurance carrier, the adjusters and
the lawyers, not the county.
“Once the insurance company decides to settle, the insured
really doesn’t have a choice,” the judge


Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Sued:
Witness Inside Jail Explains Conditions
By Don Granese
NBC Right Now, Pasco, Washington
August 6, 2014

The Franklin County Sheriff’s office faces a class action
lawsuit that alleges inmates are mistreated and confined in
ways that are unconstitutional.
Columbia Legal Services, a group that works to make sure
Washington jails are following their legal obligations, believes
the Franklin County Jail has the worst conditions in the state.
NBC Right Now was able to take a look at some of the claims
from the lawsuit and get answers as to why this group believes
some of the protocol followed in the jail could be unlawful.
What we found is that Sheriff Richard Lathim isn’t denying
some of the claims because he believes these actions to be the
best way to keep inmates safe.
“Some of it’s just totally not true. What little bit is true is
taken out of context or misrepresented and exaggerated,”
explained Lathim.
Chaining inmates for days, pepper spraying without reason
and denying any and all visitation are just some of those
claims. The claims and the suit stems from pre-trial inmates in
the jail and at this time they are simply just claims.
“We’ve had a couple inmates that have done thousands of
dollars worth of damage and continue to do so even just a
couple days ago.”
Lathim explains that many of these conditions including
broken toilets and no lights in cells are because inmates are
tearing up their own cells. They’re even breaking windows

and causing damage to the fairly new facility that opened up at
the end of February.
“There were two prisoners that were handcuffed to the chain
link fence that surrounds the guard station,” said Carrie
It might sound like an alarming sight to see for someone like
Wilkinson who was on her first visit ever interview in a
Washington jail. The Senior Paralegal at the Human Rights
Defense Center in Seattle visited to conduct interviews with
inmates just last week. Columbia Legal Services pointed to
her as a good witness for NBC Right Now to speak with.
“They were kind of just sitting out on a floor in the hallway
chained to a fence.”
As the sheriff explained, that fence is a temporary holding area
where inmates are placed until they are booked into the jail. A
new booking center is under construction right now and will
be able to hold those prisoners once it is complete. The lawsuit
claims the new center isn’t enough and to place inmates where
visitors can see them is a form of public humiliation.
“Everything is done to protect inmates, from themselves, from
other inmates and also to protect the staff,” said Lathim.
The new booking area will also have cameras in each cell to
monitor those destructive inmates and those who could be
harmful to themselves. Whether or not the current conditions
are constitutional is set to likely be hashed out in court. In the
meantime those inmates suing the county sheriff’s office will
still serve their time.
“We’re stuck with them and they’re stuck with us.”
Lathim says the construction of that new booking area is
scheduled to be complete in about one month. It will have
video conferencing setup for inmates with to easily meet with
their visitors. It will also have new individual holding cells for
inmates that need to be separated and watched closely.


Temple Completes Probe of Professors’
Prison Study
By Martha Woodall
Philadelphia Inquirer
July 16, 2014

Temple University has completed its review of an ethics
complaint on a study conducted by two professors that
described economic savings from private prisons - without
disclosing that they had received funding from the prison
industry. The university, however, will not disclose the

findings or say whether any action was taken against the
“It’s a personnel matter,” Brandon Lausch, a Temple
spokesman, said Wednesday. “I can’t go into details.”
He said the examination was concluded July 2.
“They are fairly close-mouthed about their investigation,” said
Alex Friedmann, managing editor of the Prison Legal News
and associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center,
who filed the ethics complaint with Temple in June 2013.
He alleged that when economics professors Simon Hakim and
Erwin Blackstone released a working paper in April 2013,
they did not properly disclose that they had received financial
support from private prison operators, including the Nashvillebased Corrections Corp. of America, the nation’s largest
private corrections company.
In op-ed newspaper articles, the professors wrote that their
research had found that privately run prisons worked as well
as or better than government-run institutions and could
provide long-term savings to taxpayers of 12 percent to 58
Neither of the longtime Temple faculty members could be
reached for comment Wednesday.
Friedmann said he received a letter this month from Michele
Masucci, Temple’s interim senior vice provost for research,
informing him that she had completed her review of his
complaint. She said the university would “address its
conclusions, including any action” to Hakim and Blackstone
Masucci told Friedmann that the professors’ working paper
had been withdrawn and was no longer widely available, and
that the research had received no university grant money.
Last month, Hakim and Blackstone told an Inquirer reporter
that they had been conducting similar research for decades and
always disclose funding sources when they publish their final
Lausch, the Temple spokesman, said the final version of their
report, “Prison Break, A New Approach to Public Cost and
Safety,” was published last month by the nonprofit
Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.
The report says the study was funded in part by the private
corrections industry.
ColorOfChange, an online civil rights organization based in
Oakland, which recently mounted a campaign in support of
Friedmann’s ethics complaint, said Wednesday that nearly
25,000 of its members had sent e-mails to Temple.



Editorial: FCC Right to Scrutinize
Exorbitant Prison Phone Fees
By Seattle Times Editorial Board

The FCC is finally putting the outrageous costs for telephone
calls from prison under the regulatory spotlight.
One out of 28 children in the U.S. has a parent in prison or
jail, a rate so astonishing, and growing, that Sesame Street felt
the need to add a fuzzy little blue-haired character, Alex, to
talk about his locked-up dad.
Keeping the Alexes of the nation — 2.7 million children —
connected with an incarcerated parent is vital. Maintaining
family bonds between inmates and their kin has been shown to
be one of the best ways of reducing recidivism. That’s why
smart state and local prison systems — including those in
Washington — have strong family-focused policies.
Yet, prisons and jails across the country — including in King
County and around Washington — artificially raise the cost of
telephone calls from behind bars. Contracts between detention
facilities and telecom providers commonly include a
“commission” paid back to the prison or jail.
Washington’s contract with prison phone provider Global Tel
Link required a 51 percent commission on gross revenue,
guaranteeing the Department of Corrections at least $4 million
a year. King County’s jail has a 58 percent commission.
These are kickbacks, most commonly paid by inmates’
families for doing the very thing that research suggests will
lower crime: staying in touch.
In a little-noticed announcement last week, the Federal
Communications Commission took aim at the sky-high rates
of prison phone calls. It soon will begin taking public
comments on the cost of in-state calls, as part of a
comprehensive reform proposal. A cap on commissions is
among the proposals.
Prison administrators defend commissions as a revenue source
that pays for amenities behind bars such as education, a legal
library or, in the case of King County Jail, staff for the jail
commissary. A quarter of state DOC commissions goes to the
crime victims’ compensation fund.
Regardless of those intentions, inmates’ families should not be
taxed to stay in touch. That is a clear example of public
policies being at cross-purposes: short-term revenue gained at
the expense of long-term recidivism.
This is not a new issue. A petition filed by the grandmother of
an inmate has been before the FCC since 2003. In February,
the regulator moved to cap costs of interstate calls from

prison, and call volume across state lines went up 70 percent
in some facilities.
But since then, “already outrageous costs” for in-state calls
inched up, as prisons and jails jacked up their commission
rates, according to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn.
“In my 16 years as a regulator, this is the clearest, most
egregious case of market failure that I’ve seen,” she said in a
There is no rationality in costs for calls from jails in
Washington state. A 15 minute collect call from the Stevens
County Jail, in Northeast Washington, costs $18.24, the
highest in the state, according to the nonprofit Human Rights
Defense Center. A similar call from Snohomish County Jail is
$13.39; in King County, it’s $3.50.
The difference is not on quality of service. It is how much
profit localities want to suck from the families of inmates.
Good for the FCC for taking it on.
Seattle Times Editorial Board members are editorial page editor
Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Jonathan Martin, Thanh
Tan, Blanca Torres, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus)
and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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Prison Profiteers, edited by Paul Wright and Tara Herivel, 323 pages.
$24.95. This is the third book in a series of Prison Legal News anthologies that examines the reality of mass imprisonment in America. Prison
Profiteers is unique from other books because it exposes and discusses
who profits and benefits from mass imprisonment, rather
than who is harmed by it and how.
The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, by Brandon Sample, PLN Publishing, 200 pages. $49.95. This is PLN’s second
published book, written by federal prisoner Brandon Sample, which
covers ineffective assistance of counsel issues in federal
habeas petitions. Includes hundreds of case citations! 1078
Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America’s Poor, edited by Tara
Herivel and Paul Wright, 332 pages. $35.95. PLN’s second anthology
exposes the dark side of the ‘lock-em-up’ political agenda and
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The Celling of America, An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry,
edited by Daniel Burton Rose, Dan Pens and Paul Wright, 264 pages.
$22.95. PLN’s first anthology presents a detailed “inside”
look at the workings of the American justice system. 1001
Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the
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by Susan Schwartzkopf, PLN Publishing, 221 pages. $49.95. Written by
Missouri prisoner Jon Marc Taylor, the Guerrilla Handbook contains contact
information and descriptions of high school, vocational, para1071
legal and college courses by mail.

Protecting Your Health and Safety, by Robert E. Toone, Southern
Poverty Law Center, 325 pages. $10.00. This book explains basic rights
that prisoners have in a jail or prison in the U.S. It deals mainly with
rights related to health and safety, such as communicable diseases and
abuse by prison officials; it also explains how to enforce
your rights, including through litigation.
Spanish-English/English-Spanish Dictionary, 2nd ed., Random House.
$15.95. Spanish-English and English-Spanish. 60,000+ entries
from A to Z; includes Western Hemisphere usage.
Writing to Win: The Legal Writer, by Steven D. Stark, Broadway Books/Random
House, 283 pages. $19.95. Explains the writing of effective complaints, responses, briefs, motions and other legal papers.
Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make it Right,
updated paperback ed., by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld and Jim Dwyer; 403 pages.
$17.99. Describes how criminal defendants are wrongly convicted. Explains DNA
testing and how it works to free the innocent. Devastating critique
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All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated, by Nell Bernstein,
303 pages. $19.95. Award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein takes an intimate look at the effects incarceration has on imprisoned
parents and their children.
Everyday Letters for Busy People, by Debra Hart May, 287 pages.
$21.99. Hundreds of sample letters that can be adapted for most any purpose, including letters to government agencies and officials.
Has numerous tips for writing effective letters.

The Criminal Law Handbook: Know Your Rights, Survive the System, by
Attorneys Paul Bergman & Sara J. Berman-Barrett, Nolo Press, 608 pages.
$39.99. Explains what happens in a criminal case from being arrested to sentencing, and what your rights are at each stage of the process. Uses an
easy to understand question-and-answer format.

Roget’s Thesaurus, 717 pages. $8.95. Helps you find the right word for
what you want to say. 11,000 words listed alphabetically with over 200,000
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Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case, by
Attorneys Paul Bergman & Sara J. Berman-Barrett, Nolo Press, 528 pages.
$39.99. Breaks down the civil trial process in easy-to-understand steps so you
can effectively represent yourself in court. The authors explain
what to say in court, how to say it, etc.

Beyond Bars, Rejoining Society After Prison, by Jeffrey Ian Ross, Ph.D.
and Stephen C. Richards, Ph.D., Alpha, 240 pages. $14.95. Beyond Bars is a
practical and comprehensive guide for ex-convicts and their families for
managing successful re-entry into the community, and includes information
about budgets, job searches, family issues, preparing for
release while still incarcerated, and more.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, New Edition, 939 pages. $8.95. This
paperback dictionary is a handy reference for the most common English words, with more than 65,000 entries.
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, by Jane Straus, 110 pages. $19.99. A guide to grammar and punctuation by an educator with experience teaching English to prisoners. 1046
Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias
and Susan Levinkind, 568 pages. $49.99. Comprehensive and easy to understand guide on researching the law. Explains case law, statutes
and digests, etc. Includes practice exercises.
Deposition Handbook, by Paul Bergman and Albert Moore, Nolo Press, 352
pages. $34.99. How-to handbook for anyone who conducts a
deposition or is going to be deposed.
Criminal Law in a Nutshell, by Arnold H. Loewy, 5th edition, 387 pages.
$43.95. Provides an overview of criminal law, including punishment, specific crimes, defenses & burden of proof. 1086

Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A., by
Mumia Abu Jamal, City Lights Publishers, 280 pages. $16.95. In Jailhouse
Lawyers, Prison Legal News columnist, award-winning journalist and deathrow prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal presents the stories and reflections of
fellow prisoners-turned-advocates who have learned to use
the court system to represent other prisoners.
With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America, by
Scott Christianson, Northeastern University Press, 372 pages. $18.95. The
best overall history of the U.S. prison system from 1492 through the 20th
century. A must-read for understanding how little things
have changed in U.S. prisons over hundreds of years. 1026
Complete GED Preparation, by Steck-Vaughn, 922 pages. $24.99. This
useful handbook contains over 2,000 GED-style questions to thoroughly
prepare students for taking the GED test. It offers complete coverage of
the revised GED test with new testing information, instructions and a practice test.


Hepatitis and Liver Disease: What You Need to Know, by Melissa Palmer,
MD, 457 pages. $19.99. Describes symptoms & treatments of hepatitis B & C and
other liver diseases. Includes medications to avoid, what diet to follow
and exercises to perform, plus a bibliography.

Our Bodies, Ourselves, by The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective,
944 pages. $26.00. This book about women’s health and sexuality has been
called “America’s best-selling book on all aspects of women’s
health,” and is a great resource for women of all ages. 1082

Arrested: What to Do When Your Loved One’s in Jail, by Wes
Denham, 240 pages. $16.95. Whether a defendant is charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct or first-degree murder, this is an indispensable
guide for those who want to support family members, partners

Arrest-Proof Yourself, by Dale Carson and Wes Denham, 288 pages.
$14.95. This essential “how not to” guide written by an ex-cop explains
how to act and what to say when confronted by the police to minimize the
chances of being arrested and avoid additional charges. Includes information on basic tricks that police use to get people to incriminate themselves.

Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual, updated 4th ed. (2010), by John
Boston and Daniel Manville, Oxford Univ. Press, 960 pages. $39.95. The
premiere, must-have “Bible” of prison litigation for current
and aspiring jail-house lawyers. If you plan to litigate a prison
or jail civil suit, this book is a must-have. Highly recommended!

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary, by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen
T. Hill, 496 pages. $29.99. Find terms you can use to understand and access
the law. Contains 3,800 easy-to-read definitions for common
(and not so common) legal terms.

How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim, by Atty. Joseph Matthews, 7th
edition, NOLO Press, 304 pages. $34.99. While not specifically for prison-related personal injury cases, this book provides comprehensive information on how to handle personal
injury and property damage claims arising from accidents.
Sue the Doctor and Win! Victim’s Guide to Secrets of
Malpractice Lawsuits, by Lewis Laska, 336 pages. $39.95.
Written for victims of medical malpractice/neglect, to prepare for litigation. Note that this book addresses medical malpractice claims
and issues in general, not specifically related to prisoners.
Advanced Criminal Procedure in a Nutshell, by Mark E.

Criminal Procedure: Constitutional Limitations, by Jerold H. Israel and
Wayne R. LaFave, 7th edition, 603 pages. $43.95. Intended for use by law
students, this is a succinct analysis of constitutional standards
of major significance in the area of criminal procedure. 1085
Win Your Lawsuit: Sue in CA Superior Court without a Lawyer, by
Judge Roderic Duncan, 445 pages (4th edition 2010). $39.99. This plainEnglish guide shows you how to prepare a complaint, file and serve papers,
participate in settlement negotiations, present a case and much more. The
4th edition has been revised to reflect recent court procedures and includes updated forms.

Coming Soon! Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual, by Daniel

Manville. By the co-author of the Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual, this
book provides detailed information about prisoners’ rights in disciplinary
hearings and how to enforce those rights in court. Published by Prison
Legal News Publishing, this title should be available by Nov. 15, 2014.

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Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual, Second Edition
Dan Manville


ISBN: 978-0-9819385-2-3 • Paperback, 368 pages
The Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual, Second Edition, by Dan Manville, is the third in a series of books by Prison
Legal News Publishing. It is designed to inform prisoners of their rights when faced with the consequences of a
disciplinary hearing. This authoritative and comprehensive work educates prisoners about their rights throughout
this process and helps guide them at all stages, from administrative hearing through litigation. The Manual is an
invaluable how-to guide that offers step-by-step information for both state and federal prisoners, and includes a
50-state analysis of relevant case law and an extensive case law citation index.

The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Brandon Sample


ISBN: 978-0-9819385-1-6 • Paperback, 224 pages
The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel is the first in a series of books by Prison Legal News Publishing
designed to help pro-se prisoner litigants identify and raise viable claims for potential habeas corpus relief. This
book is an invaluable resource that identifies hundreds of cases where the federal courts have granted habeas relief
to prisoners whose attorneys provided ineffective assistance of counsel.

Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs
in the United States and Canada, 3rd Edition
Jon Marc Taylor

Special sale price:


ISBN: 978-0-9819385-0-9 • Paperback, 224 pages
Author Jon Marc Taylor’s third edition of the Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the United
States and Canada is the latest version of this unique and highly successful guidebook for the prisoner-student. This
invaluable tool and how-to manual provides the reader with step-by-step instructions to find the appropriate education program for correspondence high school, vocational, paralegal, undergraduate and graduate courses offered
in the U.S. and Canada. This is the second book published by Prison Legal News Publishing.

Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual, 4th Edition
John Boston & Dan Manville


ISBN: 978-0-1953744-0-7 • Paperback, 960 pages
The Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual, in its much-anticipated fourth edition, is an indispensable guide for prisoner litigants and prisoner advocates seeking to understand the rights guaranteed to prisoners by law and how to
protect those rights. Clear, comprehensive, practical advice provides prisoners with everything they need to know
about conditions of confinement, civil liberties in prison, procedural due process, the legal system, how to actually
litigate, conducting effective legal research and writing legal documents. It is a roadmap on how to win lawsuits.

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