Update from Jeff "Free" Luers 8/8/04
Well, uh, it looks like I did it again. Been thinking about writing one of these for a few weeks now. OK, first off, I'm not really that far behind. I wrote a dispatch about a month ago but it seems to have disappeared. I may have to rewrite it but until then...
My oral arguments for appeal have been postponed again. But, for a good reason this time. The US Supreme Court recently ruled that it was illegal for judges to sentence people to longer sentences than state sentencing guidelines allow. The court held that sentencing that is increased by a judge's belief in aggravating factors basically consists of new charges or crimes that need to be brought before a judge.
As this case directly affects my case (I had three years extra added by the Judge), the appellate court has given me and the state time to file arguments.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm incredibly pessimistic about the 'justice' system. However, having reviewed the case law and hearing the true excitement in my attorney's voice, I believe it is possible that I may receive a sentence reduction as low as 9 years.
There has also been quite a bit of excitement here at Camp Snoopy AKA Oregon State Penitentiary. A few weeks ago, an organized boycott of canteen and the phones started. Almost monthly, the canteen has been raising prices and in April the collect call rates went up. To give you an idea, it costs $25 to call friends in Eugene and $30 to call my parents in the LA. These are 30 minute phone calls.
The boycott demands were quite simple. Stop exploiting us with artificially high prices. Bring back education and vocational training programs and provide better food and medical services. In typical fashion, the prison authorities responded harshly to people refusing to use their 'privileges'. After all, a million dollar industry was being brought to its knees. The prison went on modified lockdown, more guards and guns were brought in and dozens of people went to the hole or got shipped out.
Early into the second week of the boycott, the administration appeared to be willing to negotiate. It remains to be seen what, if any, change will occur. However, the prison has said it is building a classroom (of course, we already have 6 not in use).
I encourage everyone to support this struggle by writing or emailing the Governor of Oregon and requesting that the exploitation of inmates and their families through high phone and canteen prices come to an end. Request the Governor do a full investigation to the lack of education, job skills and vocational training in Oregon's prisons.
In other news... You all probably know that I am routinely the target of harassment by prison guards. This has become so normal to me that I am desensitized to it. Actually, sometimes it can be really funny. It would seem however that others are not so amused. Not so long ago, I was approached by a Sergeant and this is what they had to say to me.
"I see they are picking on you again. I don't know how you can stand it. It makes me sick. I just can't stand the injustice of it all. God, it makes me mad!"
It reminded me of a recent interview Ron Arnold, founder of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and consumption rights activist, recently did. He said he is convinced that I am not a member of the ELF which to him is akin to saying 'he's not a terrorist". He went on to say that my harsh sentence "cheapens the justice system". (Well Ron, you are right that I claim no allegiance to any group though I can think of quite a few acronyms I strongly support).
My point is this. I may be locked in jail. Our movement may be losing. But are we beginning to turn their people? You hear that Feddie? You are no longer safe from your own people. From behind prison walls, my words are spreading. I'm making allies and sympathizers with those who wear badges. Some of your strongest patriots are beginning to question your justice.
The tides are beginning to turn. Today's terrorists are becoming tomorrow's freedom fighters. More and more people everywhere are beginning to question why people like me, people like you... hell, people like my parents are being labeled terrorists. The state loves to be in absolute control. When that fails, control through fear will work just as well. But, when the state loses the ability to instill fear, then change is blowing in the wind.
To those in power, I have this to say. I can see why you are afraid. I get letters from your children. They know the world you are building is unfit for them. Even your own are starting to know it. They are looking for new alternatives, new solutions. Mr. Politicians, Ms. Corporate Business. Officer Friendly-you are running out of places to hide.
For the Earth, for the wild, for the oppressed,
Up the rebels!
Jeff "Free" Luers
Jeffrey Luers, #13797671, Oregon State Prison, 2605 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97310.
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