Last month, a small, black-and-white newsprint magazine quietly made a case in a Florida courtroom to protect the fundamental rights that nearly every citizen in the industrialized world holds dear. Yet the odds are, you didn’t hear a word about it.
Prison Legal News has reported on the legal landscape of prisoners’ rights in America’s prisons for 25 years. It was founded by Paul Wright from his prison cell in Washington State, where he was serving a 25-year sentence for shooting a drug dealer (he was released in 2003). From the beginning, its goal has to been to inform both the incarcerated and their families regarding issues of prison conditions, resources, and reform. It has grown from a cheaply-produced newsletter slapped together by a few prisoners, to a well-respected, 64-page monthly publication backed by the non-profit foundation, the Human Rights Defense Center.
Together, PLN and the HRDC print and distribute books, litigate free speech issues across the nation, and generally serve as the most respected voice for the 2.3 million men, women, and children presently confined in our country’s prisons and jails.