Book, magazine and website publishing are critical components of the Human Rights Defense Center's advocacy efforts, which are designed to educate the public and policymakers about criminal justice policies and practices in the United States. This includes reporting on the corrosive effects of mass imprisonment and the resulting human rights violations attendant to incarcerating over 2.3 million people in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, immigration detention centers, Bureau of Indian Affairs jails, civil commitment centers, military prisons and other detention facilities.
HRDC publishes Prison Legal News (PLN), a monthly magazine that reports on news and legal and political developments involving the criminal justice system. Originally started in 1990 as a 10-page newsletter covering issues in Washington state, PLN has expanded to a 72-page national publication with approximately 9,000 subscribers and a readership of 8-10 times that number based on subscriber survey data.
Each issue of PLN contains news articles and litigation case reports involving the U.S. criminal justice system. In more than 24 years of continuous publishing, PLN has established itself as the foremost publication dedicated exclusively to reporting on the human rights of people detained in correctional facilities. PLN is also the longest-running prisoners' rights publication in American history, and in 2013 received the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Find articles and more at Prison Legal News.
In addition to publishing Prison Legal News, HRDC also publishes non-fiction reference and self-help books designed to help prisoners help themselves. Through its book publishing project, PLN Publishing, HRDC seeks out quality non-fiction titles that are useful to prisoners but may not be commercially viable for mainstream publishers. While we do not provide book advances, we do pay the most competitive author royalties in the publishing industry: 10% royalties based on the retail sale price of the title, paid every six months.
Susan Schwartzkopf is the director of PLN Publishing. To submit an inquiry about potential book titles, please contact her at 561-360-2523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HRDC has published two books:
The Prisoners' Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the United States and Canada, by Jon Marc Taylor (2009), is a guide to correspondence courses for prisoners seeking higher education. In the mid-1990s President Clinton eliminated Pell Grants for prisoners, and most states responded by dismantling all prison higher education programs. As a result, with few exceptions, the only option available for prisoners seeking a higher education while incarcerated is to enroll in correspondence programs at their own expense. This book is a comprehensive guide to the options available to prisoners who want to further their education.
The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, by Brandon Sample (2010), is a citation book for federal habeas corpus cases in which the petitioner obtained habeas relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) -- also known as "bad lawyering." This book provides a jumpstart for prisoners researching controlling case law on every aspect of IAC claims in federal court.
We are always seeking new titles to publish of interest to a national prisoner audience. We handle book distribution of all Prison Legal News Publishing titles through our print and online sales departments. Our books are generally in print and ready to ship within four months of receiving the final electronic manuscript from the author.
The Prison Legal News website, www.prisonlegalnews.org, contains a database of over 25,000 articles concerning all aspects of prison and jail-related news and litigation. PLN's verdict and settlement database is the most comprehensive source of prison and jail litigation information available anywhere. Spanning over 23 years of news reporting, PLN's website has the largest and most detailed collection of information related to criminal justice issues, including a publications library and brief bank.
Additionally, as part of HRDC's advocacy campaign to end the practice of extortionate prison phone rates that families and loved ones of prisoners must pay, HRDC maintains the Prison Phone Justice website, www.prisonphonejustice.org. This site includes news and information about prison phone issues, including efforts to reduce high prison telephone rates on the federal and state levels.