Dear Mr. Nethercutt:
As one of your constituents from Eastern Washington, I wrote to you before my arrest at Ft. Benning on Nov. 16, 1997, after my arrest, before my trial and sentencing on Jan. 21, 1998, and twice more before my incarceration on March 23, 1998. I acknowledged that we differ in philosophy regarding The School of the Americas, but appealed to compassion, and justice. As a member of the Washington State Bar Association and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives you might clearly recognize the harsh and abusive nature of our sentences and fines for a petty misdemeanor.
Friends and supporters from all over the country have offered prayers, sympathy, and encouragement. Many have also begun sending me copies of the letter they have received from you. That, Mr. Nethercutt, has caused me no small amount of distress in addition to the existing travails of prison life.
For the record, I have now been moved to the Federal Prison Camp and am no longer in the Detention Center (Jail). However, that does not excuse my treatment while I was there or since I've been transferred. Here are some responses to your letter.
- The Detention Center where I was held for nine days and which was described as a "holding facility for pretrial/short-term, non-violent offenders," was, in fact, filled with felons-bank robbers, firearms violators, etc.
- I was not "afforded the opportunity for access to outside recreation (morning and afternoon for a total of 3 hours)," I was allowed "outside" in a razorwire-fenced enclosure for 40 minutes twice in nine days!
- The "library" was a small room with a few hundred discarded paperback books of the spy/espionage, mystery, and western genres.
- I had no access to any "education department, telephones and mail."
My one request to call my family was denied and the two "cop-outs" to my counselor were ignored!
- I received no orientation of any kind: no handbook, no rules, no explanations.
I was brought in by one guard, put into a cell by another, and ignored. It took me two days to get a prison issue toothbrush, three days to get a razor, and five days to get a tube of shaving paste. I had to beg for prison issue writing paper, a simple pencil, and an envelope, then wait three days to buy my own stamp to write to my family. It took me two days to convince a guard that I needed a pillow, so he got one for me out of another cell and dropped it on the floor on the tier across from me and made me walk over and pick it up. When you do receive mail, the guard calls your name while you're in the food line and then drops your mail over the balcony so you have to try and catch it in front of everybody or pick it up off the floor.
- They tell you nothing and then each time you don't follow their procedure someone yells at you or pats you down or makes you take a Breathalyzer or searches your cell.
- Every felon in this institution is allowed automatic visiting privileges for immediate family with no background checks. I was convicted on a petty misdemeanor and I have not been allowed even one visitor in this first month.
My family traveled almost 1200 miles round trip to see me for Easter and they were turned away. My fianc?e has had her visitor information form turned in here since March 30, and they still refuse to approve her. My 77 and 75 year-old parents are being required to submit to background checks because my counselor "doesn't know if they're really my parents." You and I have very different ideas, George, on what constitutes mistreatment. As a prison of conscience I fully intend to accept the consequences-albeit totally unjust-of my exercise of my first amendment rights to freedom of speech, to petition my government, to assemble, and to seek the redress of grievances. However, when I read your letters, I was deeply offended. Yet, it has served to enlighten me. I now understand more fully how you can attest so confidently that the Department of Defense is operating The School of the Americas in accordance with American values. You believe everything the U.S. Army says, too, just as you believed the BOP. Please, before more innocent Central and South American blood is on our hands, look more deeply for the truth about The School of the Americas and its awful legacy.
#88111-020 Unit 5
P.O. Box 6000
Sheridan, OR 97378