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PLN is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center

Welcome to Prison Legal News!

Prison Legal News (PLN), a project of the non-profit Human Rights Defense Center, is a 72-page monthly magazine that reports on criminal justice issues and prison and jail-related civil litigation, with an emphasis on prisoners' rights. PLN has published continuously since 1990 and covers a wide range of topics that include prison labor, rape and sexual abuse, misconduct by prison and jail staff, prisoners' constitutional rights, racial and socioeconomic disparities in our criminal justice system, medical and mental health care for prisoners, disenfranchisement, rehabilitation and recidivism, prison privatization, prison and jail phone rates, women prisoners, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), prison censorship, the death penalty, HIV and hep C, solitary confinement and control units, and much more.

In 2013, PLN received the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. 

This website includes all of PLN's articles published since 1990 plus thousands of other articles, case reports, publications and pleadings. 

To search PLN's articles and other content, click "Search Content" on the top menu bar. For recent news articles that mention PLN and the Human Rights Defense Center or quote PLN staff, click "In the News" (which also includes our press releases). For our litigation project, which tracks our First Amendment lawsuits, public records cases and other legal actions, click "Litigation."

PLN's monthly magazine is a subscription publication. We have thousands of subscribers nationwide, and around 65-70% are incarcerated. We also offer website subscriptions that provide full access to all content on our website (most of our news content is free, but a subscription is required to access some of our legal content). For subscription options and fees, please click on "Subscribe" on the menu bar.

PLN also distributes a number of criminal justice, legal and self-help books through our Book Store. Plus we do much more -- for a better understanding of everything we do, please review our Annual Reports (also available under the "About" tab).


     Recent PLN Articles

PLN Exclusive! Wisconsin DOC Audit Reveals Contract Violations by Community Corrections Provider

PLN Exclusive! Wisconsin DOC Audit Reveals Contract Violations by Community Corrections Provider

by Derek Gilna

Genesis Behavioral Services, a private company, contracts with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide community corrections services to male offenders at a facility in Kenosha – including certified substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence ...

Culture of Abuse and Corruption Plagues Jail in Denver, Colorado

by Lonnie Burton, Matt Clarke, David Reutter, Christopher Zoukis

When Jamal Hunter was arrested in April 2011 on three misdemeanor charges, he had no idea what was in store for him during his stay at the Denver City Jail. Not only was he choked and tasered by guards, he was ...

Texas: Complaint Filed Over Contaminated Water, Conditions at Eastham Unit

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has become a litmus test for dealing with toxic environmental conditions for prisoners. Earlier this year, prisoners at the Wallace Pack Unit and their advocates on the outside succeeded in obtaining a court order to provide clean water at that facility, which has ...

Michigan: Contract for Prisoner Legal Writer Program Results in Controversy

A contract between the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and a law firm hired to train and oversee prisoner legal writers drew controversy last year before it was rebid. The “legal writer” program was created pursuant to a 1996 federal court order arising from a 1992 lawsuit.

The program provides ...

Rundown on California Propositions 57 and 64

by Kent A. Russell, Esq.

In the November 2016 elections, California voters enacted Propositions 57 and 64, two new laws that will potentially benefit thousands of prisoners and scores of prior marijuana offenders.

Prop 57 makes most non-violent prisoners eligible for much earlier parole consideration than was possible under the ...

More articles



Prison Labor

    Upcoming CLE                        Seminar 

Human Rights Defense Center in collaboration with National Police Accountability Project are offering a two-day CLE seminar “Representing Victims of Law Enforcement Misconduct on the Street and in the Cell Block” in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 2-3, 2017. Read more on how to register and/or sponsor this exciting event here.

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