Tag Archive: Prison Legal News

Why Environmentalists Should Celebrate 25 Years of Prison Legal News


An interview with Paul Wright, editor of PLN and director of the Human Rights Defense Center, by a former Earth First! Journal collective member.

From Earth First! Newswire / By Panagioti

Prison Legal News was born the same year that the Earth First! was figuring out what it meant to support incarcerated warriors of the eco-defense movement, resulting from the Arizona 5 busts. Environmentalism and the prison industrial complex would be intertwined for Earth First! from that point on. The prison support pages of the Earth First! Journal would be a constant presence in the publication—going from a brief sidebar to a full-blown spread in the magazine with the spike in prisoners following the first Green Scare indictments in 2005.

As a resulting of EF! activists doing time in county, state and federal facilities across the US, the numbers of prisoner subscribers also began to rise steadily. Today there are now thousands of prisoners who have an Earth First! Journal pass through their hands. There are also many supporters on the outside who make donations explicitly for the purpose of keeping these prisoner subscriptions possible—being that very few prisoners are able to make enough on slave wages to pay full price for a subscription.

Human Rights Groups and Environmentalists Oppose New Federal Prison on Abandoned Coal Mine in Kentucky

environmentHuman Rights Groups and Environmentalists Oppose New Federal Prison on Abandoned Coal Mine in Kentucky  

Organizations and individuals from across the country have joined the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) in filing a comment opposing a plan by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to build a new federal correctional facility in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky. The comment, filed on Monday pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), addresses multiple issues related to a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that analyses two potential locations for constructing the largest federal prison in the region—both on former coal mining sites.

The public comment, which can be read in its entirety here, follows several years of controversy surrounding this project in a rural region where the prison industry has made many unfulfilled promises of economic prosperity to local communities.

The comment provides a thorough analysis of the impact of the proposed facility siting and addresses social, economic and ecological concerns, including: (more…)

Panel Explores Prisons, Ecology And Police

pielc.jpgFrom Eugene Weekly

When a society uses mass incarceration as a means of control, we know it has social impacts, but a panel on “The Ecology of a Police State” at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) March 6 explored how prisons also impact the environment.

Panelists presented to a packed audience at the UO School of Law how prisons are linked not only to oppression, but how these “often-overpopulated human warehouses” are also tied to direct and indirect environmental degradation and environmental racism, and are now being rebranded as part of a “green economy.”

Paul Wright, editor and executive director of Prison Legal News and Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) and a prisoner until his release in 2003, gave the example of Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen, Washington, when speaking of how prisons are often built in areas that have been exploited by logging and mining. “The trees are gone, the jobs are gone but, hey, we will build a prison,” Wright said.

He pointed to the example of California’s Kern Valley State Prison, where arsenic was discovered in the water weeks after its 2005 opening, and yet six years later, men incarcerated there were still forced to drink the unhealthy water.


For Shame! Public Shaming Sentences on the Rise

dunce_capFrom Prison Legal News/ by David M. Reutter

Punishments intended to shame offenders for wrongdoing, popular throughout history, are once again on the rise – particularly as penalties imposed by judges who enjoy seeing their names in the newspaper or on television due to their “creative” sentencing practices.

Whether judges hand down sentences that humiliate defendants for the purpose of entertainment, self-aggrandizement or as a unique way of deterring crime with a “punishment that fits” is subject to debate. The only certainty is that most sanctions designed to shame offenders are legal, so long as judges do not go too far.

Shaming criminals has long been an integral part of America’s criminal justice system, and public whipping and the stocks were commonly used in Puritan and colonial times. During that era, imprisonment was reserved for debtors and those awaiting trial; upon conviction, a judge could order an offender to be executed, flogged, banished or shamed. (more…)

The 5 Best Items to Send to Your Loved One in Prison

certain_days_political_prisonerFrom Huffington Post

As most prisoners’ families already know, there aren’t many comforts from home that you can send to an incarcerated loved one. This is largely due to onerous correspondence restrictions that are in place in virtually every jail and prison in the country. Gone are the days of care packages, clothes packages, Christmas packages from home and even some publications due to them featuring nudity or other adult or violent content.

While many items are prohibited in American jails and prisons, some are still allowed. And it is these items that can make a stay in the slammer that much more bearable and less toxic.

This article presents the five top items that you can send your loved one in prison which will immediately improve their quality of life.

1. Personal Correspondence
One of the great pains of prison is that of being cut off from friends and family alike. The uniformity and impersonality of prison life seems to strip inmates of their very sense of self. In order to combat this, prisoners’ families and friends can send letters, notes, cards and photos to help their incarcerated loved ones keep in touch with not only the world outside of prison, but who they are, too. This connection to loved ones in the world outside of prison can be the difference between the prisoner remaining grounded and attached to the outside world or lost to the convict culture. (more…)

North Carolina: Hundreds of Federal Prisoners Legally Innocent, Some Still Incarcerated


From Prison Legal News/ by Derek Gilna

Following a 2011 federal appellate court ruling, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) initially tried to delay the release of federal prisoners who were wrongly convicted in North Carolina. The government later announced that it would halt such tactics, but has continued to oppose challenges filed by some offenders who are legally innocent.

The DOJ’s actions followed a review of prosecutions in three federal courts in North Carolina. DOJ spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said “many more” cases could surface when all of the state’s federal court cases are examined.

The prisoners were convicted of possessing firearms in what the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held was a misapplication of the sentencing criteria, a circumstance unique to North Carolina due to the state’s system of “structured sentencing.” Adopted by the state legislature in 1993, the system mandates that the maximum prison term for any given crime is based on the offender’s criminal record. As a result, sentences for even minor crimes can extend for years if a defendant has numerous prior offenses. (more…)

Seven Books Every American Prisoner and Criminal Attorney Should Own

Prison-GrievancesFrom Blog Critics

It’s not always easy to locate quality legal books about prison law or prisoners’ rights. For starters, the field is a highly specialized one in which many like to call themselves experts, but few are worthy of such a designation. To make matters worse, lives depend on what is read and put into application. Even from a practical level, law books are often so expensive that simply purchasing several of them in pursuit of the right set is plainly cost prohibitive.

In an effort to cut through all of the blatant self-promotion and other unworthy antics, presented below are seven best buys in the prison law and prisoners’ rights arenas. Every criminal defense attorney, prison consultant, and American prisoner should have a copy of each and every one of these books. After all, their lives or the lives of their clients might just depend on it. (more…)