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The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) was originally founded in 1990 in Washington state as Prisoners’ Legal News (later Prison Legal News). The initial purpose of the organization was to publish a monthly newsletter of the same name to give a voice to prisoners, their families and others affected by criminal justice policies in Washington. By 1993 the newsletter had grown into a magazine with nationwide news coverage and circulation.
HRDC is one of the few national opponents to the private prison industry and is the foremost advocate on behalf of the free speech rights of publishers to communicate with prisoners and the right of prisoners to receive publications and communications from outside sources. HRDC also does significant work around government transparency and accountability issues by filing and litigating public records and Freedom of Information Act requests at the state and federal levels.