Buried under prisoner fan mail

Slingshot has always offered free subscriptions to prisoners and we will continue to do so, but as the number of in-print publication shrinks (with more and more activists switching their energy to on-line media) the amount of time and energy our tiny collective spends doing prison distribution is making us consider our options. We’re now mailing around 1,000 copies of each issue to prisoners, and we get dozens of new subscription requests a week. It isn’t so much the money for postage or printing — the real issue is the time it takes to type in all the new addresses, maintain the list and actually do the mailing. Returns of papers sent to prisoners who move (prisons seem to move prisoners frequently) or rejected by the prison also is a hassle and expensive — $1.44 per copy! Our collective is very small and all-volunteer.

We have four ideas for dealing with this:

(1) We would prefer it if people publishing resource guides of publications that are free for prisoners stop listing us — we’re overloaded just with the current word of mouth.

(2) If you live in the Bay Area and have any energy to help us with our prisoner mailing project, please contact us! We need the most help the week or so before each article deadline, and in the week after the issue gets published (see page 2 or our website for these dates).

(3) We’ve noticed that at some prisons, many prisoners separately subscribe to the paper. If you are a prisoner and someone else on your cell block gets the paper and you can share a single copy, that would help us out.

(4) One idea that would be a lot of work, is for us to figure out prisons that have libraries where we could mail a single copy — we would then just distro to libraries and only mail individual papers to prisoners who were unable to read us in their prison library.

Please let us know if you have other ideas or comments on these ideas, or if you have energy to make any of this happen. Email slingshot@tao.ca or write to 3124 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94705.