Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Criminal Legal News?
A. Criminal Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center (“HRDC”), is an independent 56-page monthly magazine that provides cutting edge review and analysis of individual rights, court rulings, and news concerning criminal justice-related issues. CLN has a national (U.S.) focus on both state and federal criminal justice issues.
CLN provides information that enables prisoners and other concerned individuals and organizations to gain a better understanding of a broad range of criminal justice topics. Specifically, CLN’s coverage of criminal justice issues includes, but is not limited to, 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 warning, and due process rights.
ISSN 2576-9987 (print)
ISSN 2577-0004 (online)
Q. Can prisoners access or receive the material and information on the Criminal Legal News website?
A. Prisoners normally don’t have access to the internet, yet they have the greatest need for CLN’s content. We encourage the distribution of CLN’s web content to incarcerated persons so long as it is being provided at no cost to the prisoner. If you are volunteering your time to research a topic for someone in a prison, jail, or other detention facility, please feel free to print out our articles and mail them to the incarcerated person.
Q. How do I subscribe by mail or telephone to CLN?
A. You can subscribe for yourself or someone else (a gift subscription) by sending us a check or money order for the correct amount to: Criminal Legal News, P.O. Box 1151, Lake Worth, FL 33460.
If you have a credit card, you can order a subscription and/or any book sold by CLN by calling our office at 561-360-2523 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (East Coast Time), Monday through Friday.
Q. What other media work does the Human Rights Defense Center do?
A. The Human Rights Defense Center publishes two monthly magazines: Criminal Legal News and Prison Legal News [include link]. Both publications are published monthly in both printed and online form on their respective websites.
In addition, HRDC has published three anthologies, the first titled The Celling of America: An Inside Look at the U.S. Prison Industry. HRDC’s second book, Prison Nation, was released in January 2003. HRDC’s third anthology, Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money from Mass Imprisonment, was published by The New Press in January 2008. [include links to all three books in our bookstore]
HRDC’s director, Paul Wright is regularly interviewed by journalists and media representatives on criminal justice-related topics. We also work with other media organizations to develop and distribute criminal justice-related stories and news reports. For a list of where CLN, PLN, and HRDC have been mentioned or quoted in news articles, see our In the News page.
Q. Who manages CLN’s day-to-day operations?
A. CLN is managed by Paul Wright, editor-in-chief; Richard Resch, managing editor; and Betty Nelander, editorial assistant.
Q. Where is CLN located?
A. CLN’s business and editorial office is located in Lake Worth Beach, Florida. See our Contact Us page.
Q. Who writes for CLN?
A. CLN has its own staff of writers and columnists and publishes articles written by other writers. Many of CLN’s staff writers are or have been incarcerated.
Q. How does CLN get the information published in the magazine?
A. CLN is on numerous online listservs for criminal justice-related news. CLN also has a subscription exchange arrangement with scores of other publications, from well-known alternative magazines to very small, niche newsletters. Another valuable source of information is the scores of newspaper clippings about criminal justice and prison-related issues submitted to CLN by readers and subscribers.
Additionally, incarcerated CLN and PLN readers regularly send us first-person accounts that provide our organization with “inside scoops.” Many readers also provide unpublished court rulings that are a valuable source of cases that are not normally reported. HRDC also investigates, develops, and breaks news stories, many of which have been picked up by other news outlets.
Online research by CLN staff is also a valuable source of news reports, and we rely on studies, reports, and audits produced by both government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Finally, we review every published state and federal appellate court decision and report on those cases that have the potential to help readers with their own situation, announce a new rule of law, clarify an existing rule of law, or likely to be of general interest to our readers.
Q. How is CLN produced?
A. Criminal Legal News has around 20 staff members at its headquarters in Lake Worth Beach, Florida and satellite locations in Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C. who all contribute to producing both Criminal Legal News and its companion publication, Prison Legal News.
Additionally, numerous work study students, volunteers, interns, part-time employees, and other individuals who believe in our mission all help to produce our monthly publications.
Q. What if I don’t want to subscribe but would like to make a contribution to CLN?
A. Donations to CLN should be made to its parent organization, the Human Rights Defense Center, which is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations to HRDC are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
You can donate online via the Donations tab on the menu bar. In addition to accepting contributions, HRDC holds an annual fundraiser drive. Contributions are used to fund the organization’s special projects, such as our Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, Stop Prison Profiteering, Prison Ecology Project and Private Prison News, [include links] and to ensure that low-cost subscriptions can continue to be offered to prisoners.
Q. How long has HRDC been publishing its monthly magazines?
A. CLN began publishing in December 2017, and PLN began in May 1990.
Q. Does CLN sell books?
A. Yes. CLN directly sells about four dozen criminal justice/prisoner-related books, including several that we have published ourselves. You can order over the internet with your Visa or MasterCard, call CLN’s office and order with your Visa or MasterCard, or print the pages on your printer and mail your order to CLN with the appropriate payment. A flat shipping and handling charge of $6 applies to all book orders under $50. Orders $50 or more are shipped at no extra charge. All CLN book orders are mailed at the U.S. Postal Service’s media mail rate with tracking. Tracking provides CLN with a record of when a book purchase is delivered to a prison facility; this protects both the purchaser and CLN from prison mailrooms that are not conscientious about delivering mail to prisoners. For more information, please visit CLN’s Book Store.
Q. How does CLN support its operations?
A. CLN is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, that is primarily funded by subscription and advertising revenue, foundation grants, book sales, individual donations and our litigation project. Subscription rates for prisoners are kept at a near-subsidized level by the higher rates for non-prisoners and advertising revenue, which enables CLN to cover its operating costs. CLN's financial self-sufficiency enables it to maintain complete editorial independence. CLN does not accept government funding. We gratefully accept donations and have received grants from several large foundations in the past.
Q. Who subscribes to Criminal Legal News?
A. State and federal prisoners represent a majority of CLN subscribers. The balance of CLN’s subscribers include civil and criminal trial and appellate attorneys, public defender agencies, journalists, academics, paralegals, university and law school libraries, prison law libraries, investment bankers, prison rights activists, students, family members of prisoners, and concerned private individuals. State-level government officials also subscribe to CLN, including attorneys general, prison wardens, and members of other criminal justice agencies.
Q. If I live in the South Florida area, can I do volunteer work for CLN?
A. Sure! CLN has a continuous need for people willing to volunteer a few hours of their time to do envelope stuffing and sorting, particularly during the last week of each month. Such help enables CLN’s full-time staff members to focus on the business of producing our monthly publication. Further, as a nonprofit organization, CLN is also always interested in people with specialized skills related to fundraising. Contact CLN’s office at 561-360-2523 if you have any questions related to volunteering your time or if you want to contribute your specialized fundraising skills. Thanks!