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Prison Legal News

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Even in the world of zines and social networking, there is still a kind of Periodical Underworld, which isn’t as under the world as it used to be, but it’s still not quite mainstream.

Here is an AP story that I found through Google News, about the Prison Legal News (PLN):

Ex-con’s magazine focuses on advocacy, prison life, by JOHN CURRAN, May 24, 2009. Other releases of the story are here and here.

Excerpt: ‘To prison inmates, he’s a jailhouse lawyer made good.

To wardens, he’s a thorn in the side.

To prison advocates, Paul Wright is a success story: Once a killer, then a prisoner, now a journalist with a cause. He has carved out a niche with his Prison Legal News, a self-help magazine.

The publication, known as PLN, does more than highlight mail censorship, sexual abuse by prison guards and prison overcrowding in its black-and-white pages. The nonprofit tabloid often takes on the role of prisoner advocate, going to court against states and private prison operators — and winning money, reform and public attention for prisoners.

“It’s a voice from the inside, but it’s a helluva lot more reasoned and balanced than you might think, even though the point of view is obvious,” said Fred Cohen, coeditor of Correctional Law Reporter, a trade publication that serves prison officials. “It’s advocacy, in the best sense.”
….
“PLN is not fighting for cable TV or air conditioning for prisoners,” said Rhonda Brownstein, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, in Montgomery, Ala. “What they’re fighting for is basic human rights, and the basic human rights we’re talking about are the right to be free from violence by other prisoners or guards, the right to adequate medical care, adequate mental health care and the right — to an extent — to freedom of expression.”

But it’s the magazine that reaches deepest into prison cells and law libraries.’ (full article)