Saturday, September 28, 2013
Don't let Lynne Stewart die in prison
For the 'crime' of issuing a press release, US political prisoner Lynne Stewart, was eventually tossed in prison. The 'crime' happened on Attorney General Janet Reno's watch. Reno has her detractors who think she was far too tough as Attorney General. She also has her supporters who see her as a moderate. No one saw her as 'soft.' Reno had her Justice Department review what happened. There was no talk of a trial because there was no crime. No law was broken. The Justice Department imposes guidelines -- not written by Congress, so not laws -- on attorneys. Lynne was made to review the guidelines and told not to break it again. That was her 'punishment' under Janet Reno. Bully Boy Bush comes into office and the already decided incident becomes a way for Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to build a name for himself. He goes on David Letterman's show to announce, after 9-11, that they're prosecuting Lynne for terrorism.
Eventually tossed in prison? Even Bully Boy Bush allowed Lynne to remain out on appeal. It's only when Barack Obama becomes president that Lynne gets tossed in prison. It's only under Barack that the US Justice Depart disputes the judge's sentence and demands a harsher one (under the original sentence Lynne would be out now). Lynne's cancer has returned.
She needs to be home with her family. Her time is limited and it needs to be spent with her loved ones. Lynne's a threat to no one -- not today, not ten years ago. She's a 73-year-old grandmother who has dedicated her life to being there for people who would otherwise have no defenders. Even now in prison, she shows compassion towards those who have had none for her. Barack Obama needs to order her immediate release. If he fails to do so, then it should be a permanent stain on his record.
This week on Black Agenda Radio (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), hosted by Nellie Bailey and Glen Ford, Glen spoke with attorney David Gespass about efforts to help Lynne.
Glen Ford: People's lawyer Lynne Stewart continues to fight for a compassionate release from prison where she's serving a ten year sentence for zealously defending her client. Stewart is suffering Stage IV breast cancer but the Obama administration has turned down all of her pleas to be released to her family and doctors. In Birmingham, Alabama, we spoke with David Gespass, a former president of the National Lawyers Guild.
David Gespass: My initial position was she never should have been convicted in the first place and certainly should not have gotten the kind of draconian sentence she did. But beyond that, I think even under the old guidelines, she was entitled to compassionate release given the severe nature of her health and the cost to the government to provide care that would otherwise be provided with her family at home. Given the new guidelines -- and I think the only possible reason not to release her would be just pure vindictiveness.
Glen Ford: Lynne Stewart suffering Stage IV breast cancer is certainly no danger to anybody's community.
David Gespass: And she was never much of a danger to begin with other than the fact that she
was a really vigorous advocate for the clients that she represented. At this point, she can't practice law because of the conviction. There is nothing that could cause any harm by her release and an enormous amount of harm could be caused by her staying in prison.
Glen Ford: Lynne Stewart is in prison because she was a zealous defender of her client.
David Gespass: That's exactly right.
This week, Ralph Poynter, Lynne's husband, created a new petition calling for Lynne to be granted a passionate release -- you can view it (and sign it) here. There are also actions planned for two weeks from now to show your support for Lynne.
A Message from Lynne Stewart:
From Deep in the Belly of the Beast ... that is, Texas.
Now another month has passed and I am getting increasingly irritable that these jokers are so cavalier with my life and what time I have left. (I also am getting weaker.)
My application for compassionate release is moving but glacially (Are there any glaciers left? Only in the bureaucracy...). We learned that the request has left the General Counsel's office of the Bureau of Prisons in Washington and is now being considered by an "Independent Committee" (whatever that means). From there it will ostensibly go to the Director, Mr. Samuels, for the final recommendation and request for a motion to the Judge.
As you can appreciate there is still plenty of room for slips between cup and lip. I truly understand that I, with the strong and consistent support of all 30,000+ of you, do constitute a "threat" in their small universe. That is to say that, the will of the People cannot be ignored forever. With that in mind, I want to urge everyone to come on out on
OCTOBER 8, TUESDAY, MY 74th BIRTHDAY
FOR A LOCAL SHOW OF OUR COLLECTIVE WILL
IN OPPOSITION TO THE '"DEATH PENALTY "
ORGANIZE • ORGANIZE • ORGANIZE • ORGANIZE • ORGANIZE
YOU AND YOUR COMRADES, FRIENDS, ACQUAINTANCES CAN GATHER AT YOUR LOCAL FEDERAL (U.S.) COURTHOUSE OR POST OFFICE TO REMIND THEM THAT WE WILL NOT LET ME DIE IN A JAIL CELL!!!
If you can do this please notify Ralph of your location by sending an email to my web site or to this site. We hope this will be nationwide and we can spread the word of the senseless cruelty in the way the Bureau of Prisons administers a program that is supposed to be compassionate. I may be the "poster child" but this is done on behalf of all the prisoners who are languishing, in pain or worse, trying to go home.
Be out there on October 8. It is already an historic day. Let's make it More So!!! Let's Win.
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