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Lynne Stewart Transferred to Texas
Sunday, 19 December 2010
She's a heroic role model deserving support at her time of need, facing nine more years when prosecutors demand the punishment, not mitigation. Silence, timidity, and inaction are no options against it.
Seven previous articles discussed her case and status, explaining the gross injustice against a heroic human rights lawyer who devoted her career to defending society's poor, unwanted, and unfairly persecuted - defendants deprived of due process without an advocate like her.
She knew the risks, yet took them courageously, until prosecutorial injustice convicted and imprisoned her for doing her job - defending an unpopular client too vigorously.
Interned on November 19, 2009 at MCC-NY, she remained there until transferred. Her family and attorneys requested FCI Danbury, CT close to home, a facility for low security female prisoners with a satellite camp for minimum security ones. No matter. She was denied the logical choice for a more punitive one.
On December 18, her web site (www.lynnestewart.org) broke the news, saying supporters can reach her by mail at:
The Federal Bureau of Prisons says Carswell "provides specialized medical and mental health services to female offenders." It's located at the Fort Worth Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base.
At over 2.4 million, America has the world's largest prison system, a gulag, the shame of the nation. Two-thirds in it are Blacks and Latinos. Half are for nonviolent offenses, many for political activism, including lawyers and other notable figures like Lynne. Numerous previous articles discussed it, explaining the gross injustice against many wrongfully there.
Those who know Carswell best call it CarsHELL for its disturbing abusive record. An earlier article discussed how young women die there under "questionable circumstances," their families denied autopsy information.
Wherever women are imprisoned, including Carswell, rape and other forms of sexual abuse are common - prison guards and officials the offenders. They also face beatings, isolation, other mistreatment, and gross medical negligence, including for prisoners most in need.
Journalist Yvonne Ridley quoted the Fort Worth Weekly saying Carswell imprisonment "can be a death sentence for women prisoners." Lynne got 10 years. She's 71, currently in good health, but earlier battled breast cancer and another illness requiring surgery while at MCC-NY. Without proper care, she risks future health problems as she ages. Incarceration in America's gulag, including at Carswell, is no place to get it. Punishment in violation of Bureau of Prison regulations is their specialty, not proper care and treatment.
Given her prominence as a world figure, hopefully, she'll avoid the dark side of prison life. The possibility can't be discounted, but neither can the worst be expected. As Lynne says, never lose hope. Indeed not, because losing it abandons optimism for change that's only possible through determined pressure. In today's America, inaction is no option.
In a recent letter to supporters, Lynne asked them to resist, explaining she's "operating in a parallel universe" like other prisoners. She also felt removed but in touch, what's harder now given her distant location from family, friends and counsel, who can't drop in to provide comfort or discuss Lynne's Second Circuit sentencing appeal. If unsuccessful, the Supreme Court will be petitioned for redress on her whole case, mindful of the unfavorable political climate she faces.
"But we are fighters," she stresses. It's vital to "make deep footprints (at) this dreadful time - that others may know and prevent" what happened to her and thousands more treated unjustly. She's "an incurable optimist," she says. "We can't allow ourselves the luxury of giving up - being armchair commentators rather than the warriors at the barricades" for equity and justice.
She's especially grateful to contributors to the Lynne Stewart Organization, Revolutionary Feminists and Partisan Defense Committee. Readers able to help can get more information from her site (lynnestewart.org). Expensive legal fees require as much as supporters can contribute.
She mentioned that "Personally, (she's) in good shape (except for) the ravages of aging." In New York, she took daily walks, but the food was "not only of poor quality, (it's) monotonous. We also have had very sporadic hot water - no showers. Miserable and we're very crowded." She had three roommates - "tough but?? It's jail."
She expected transfer soon. Now it happened, but not where she hoped that would have improved her New York confinement - "better food, more outdoors and exercise, (and) more to do." Most important was being close to friends, family and counsel, especially her "big guy," Ralph Poynter, her husband, impeded now from visiting easily.
Lynne ended saying she hopes her example "force(s) the issues and heighten(s) the contradictions," ending with her signature:
She's a heroic role model deserving support at her time of need, facing nine more years unless granted redress at a very tough time when prosecutors demand cruel and unusual punishment, not mitigation. Silence, timidity, and inaction are no options against it.
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Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 19, 2010.