Notes on Jail Time in “The Ville”

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Editors Note:
Hancock Anti-Drone Resisters Jailed Last Night (7/29)

Posted on July 30, 2015 by ucgdew
Four anti-drone resisters were sentenced Wednesday night in Judge Joseph J. Zavaglia’s DeWitt (NY) Town Court for alleged trespass at a “die-in” on April 28, 2013 at Hancock Air Base, home to the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard, just north of Syracuse, NY. At their four-day trial this past June trial the six-person jury acquitted the four of disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration…

All four were identically sentenced to one year’s conditional discharge, $250 fine, $125 court costs and a two-year order of protection. Both Pleune and Rice told Judge Zavaglia, through their attorney Lewis Oliver, that they would not agree to the conditional discharge – which led him to sentence the two to 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary. Pleune and Rice were taken from court in handcuffs.

Hi All,

Joan Pleune and I refused to accept the one-year Conditional Discharge. I would rather do the jail time than curtail my first amendment rights of protest and assembly for a year. We were released after serving seven days of our fifteen-day sentence for trespassing at the Hancock Air Base. We were incarcerated at the Onondaga County Jail at Jamesville, New York. We earned five days for good behavior and three days for jail time served after the April 2013 arrest while we awaited bail payments.

Syracuse and the surrounding area have many pockets of poor Blacks and Whites. There were fifty-three women in our building. Our cell block could hold sixty-two, but some rooms were being painted. A fight broke out on the other cell block and four women were in lockdown in our isolation area called “the bubble.” Some food was stolen by the male inmates in kitchen jobs.  Six inmates on our cell block had their urine tested for drugs, were strip searched and had their cells tossed looking for drugs. They all became sick and the guards thought they might be having withdrawal symptoms. The test results had not come back when I left, but the guard told me 99% to 100% they would test positive for drugs. One girl was in there because her boyfriend shot the owner of the car they were stealing. The other inmates were critical of her because she showed no remorse. The women were in jail for various crimes due to their drug use.

We were identified as “The Protesters” and “The Golden Girls”. The other inmates were helpful and friendly to us.  They were very curious about our actions at Hancock Air Base, what drones are and how they are used in the Middle-East.  We had a six-month-old baby sharing a cell with her mother and another two girls were pregnant. They will deliver their babies in jail and have their babies with them while they serve time.

Some inmates were in lockdown for offenses. Some rarely came out of their cells at all. The eldest was 67 years old and looked much older. The inmates whom we became friendly with said they were using heroin when arrested. Most of the younger inmates looked so clean and bright because they were now drug free.

The food was starchy with loads of soy cooked in the shape of….meatballs, sausages, patties, baloney, all of it yucky. We shared much of our food with other inmates. A GED program and AA meetings seemed to be the only  activities offered. There were books – plenty of raggedy paperback romance books and two  bibles. I did find “The Scarlet Letter.” And two children’s books were fairly interesting. One was written by the author of “Bambi” , the other by a great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens. Yes, another inappropriate book, “Poetry and Short Stories”  by Dorothy Parker. I wonder if I was the only person who ever picked it up to read.

I have another open case at the DeWitt court house; most likely the trial will be early next year.  I’m interested in seeing or hearing about some of my fellow inmates again. I hope they gain sobriety, self-control and make a better future for themselves.

– Bev Rice
for the Granny Peace Brigade

2 thoughts on “Notes on Jail Time in “The Ville””

  1. Thanks Bev for adding to the Golden Girls experience. It doesn’t sound like “orange is the new black.” And I wonder, like if books were sent, is this something that interests the women?
    Your and Joan’s determination and commitment are so inspiring.

  2. Bev, this is so moving. The idea of a woman having a baby and trying to bring it up in the jail is horrifying. In the “real world” people paint their baby’s room pastel colors and get pretty crib padding and little mobile things and rocking chairs for feeding. The jail doubtless has none of that. Where can the babies crawl? The idea of nothing to do but go to AA meetings and a GED program seems paltry. Did you get the idea that the GED program was at least well taught, or not? I hope you don’t need to go there again, but on the other hand this is enlightening, and I hope we can help with extra books and stuff. Edith

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