Paul Wright, once a killer, then a prisoner, now a journalist with a cause, has carved out a niche with Prison Legal News, a self-help magazine, reports the Associated Press. The publication, known as PLN, highlights mail censorship, sexual abuse by prison guards, and prison overcrowding in its black-and-white pages. The nonprofit tabloid also 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.” Wright, a former U.S. Army military policeman, started the monthly publication in 1990. He was inmate No. 930783 at Clallam Bay Correctional Center in Washington state, where he served 16 years of a 25-year term for killing a cocaine dealer he was trying to rob. Now, he produces the 56-page tabloid from a split-level home in West Brattleboro, Vt., where he moved after his release from prison in 2003.