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 December 2017, HRDC launched Criminal Legal News (CLN), a new monthly that complements the content of the long-standing PLN. CLN covers the criminal justice system and system reform, outside of the prison system. Content includes case analysis, news stories, opinion pieces, and book reviews on constitutional rights, the expansion of the police state in America, criminal law and procedure, police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, abuse of power, habeas corpus relief, ineffective assistance of counsel, sentencing errors, militarization of police, surveillance state, junk science, wrongful convictions, false confessions, witness misidentification, paid/incentivized informants, search and seizure, Miranda, and due process.
In addition to publishing these two monthly magazines, 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.
HRDC has published six books:
Disciplinary Self Help Litigation Manual - 2nd Edition, by Daniel Manville (2015), is designed to inform prisoners of their rights when faced with the consequences of a disciplinary hearing. This authoritative and comprehensive work educates prisoners about their rights throughout this process and helps guide them at all stages, from administrative hearing through litigation.
Prison Education Guide, by Christopher Zoukis (2016), 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 - 2nd Edition, by Brandon Sample (2016), 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. HRDC also published The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel - 1st Edition (2010).
The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct, by Alissa Hull is the latest offering in Prison Legal News Publishing’s Citebook series. Like the other Citebooks in the series, it’s designed to help pro se prisoner litigants to identify and raise viable claims for potential habeas corpus relief. This invaluable tool contains several hundred case citations and descriptions, saving readers many hours of research in identifying winning arguments to successfully challenge their conviction.
The PLRA Handbook: Law and Practice Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, is the best and most thorough guide to the PLRA in existence and provides an invaluable roadmap to all the complexities and absurdities it raises to keep prisoners from getting rulings and relief on the merits of their cases. The goal of this book is to provide the knowledge prisoners’ lawyers – and prisoners, if they don’t have a lawyer – need to quickly understand the relevant law and effectively argue their claims.
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.
The Criminal Legal News website, www.criminalegalnews.org, focuses on individuals’ constitutional rights as they relate to interactions with the criminal justice system and the persistent expansion of the police state in America. In addition, CLN provides case summaries of the latest state and federal appellate court decisions of importance for anyone with an interest in the most recent developments in substantive criminal law and criminal procedure.
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.
Other websites we maintain include:
www.stopprisonprofiteering.org, fighting the companies and governments that are financially exploiting prisoners and pushing the costs of mass incarceration on to the families of prisoners.
www.privateprisonnews.org, news about the private prison industrial complex.
www.wronglyconvicted.org, to shed light on the issue of wrongful convictions and assist exonerated prisoners in their struggle to hold law enforcement accountable.
www.prisonecology.org, to map the intersections of mass incarceration and environmental degradation and create action plans to address the multitude of problems found there.
www.wappj.org, demanding an end to the unjust costs of telephone calls from Washington prisons, jails and other detention facilities.