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Saturday, Sep. 22, 2001 at 10:37 AM
Letter from daughter and wife reporting on, and asking for support with peace activist political prisoner, put in isolation- "for his protection".
From: Frida Berrigan
As though life were not insane and unstable enough at this moment, I just found out that my dad, Phil Berrigan, who is serving a year prison sentence in Ohio, has been put in segregation where he can receive no visitors, make no phone calls and (it seems) receive or send letters. Just when we need voices of peace, tolerance, and radical nonviolence the most, one big one (at least for me) is locked away and silenced (for his own protection says the Bureau of Prisons). He is not the only one who has suffered this, Marilyn Buck and Leonard Peltier seem to be in the same situation
Please do what you can to force the Bureau of Prisons to release him from segregation. There are telephone numbers and addresses at the end of this email.
What follows is a letter from my mom, Liz McAlister, running down the
Philip Berrigan is in FCI Elkton in Lisbon OH serving a sentence of a year and a day for probation violation. After more than a week of not hearing from him (most unusual for him), I phoned the prison today to learn the cause of the silence.
After repeated efforts I learned:
1. That he was in segregation
2. That he was not allowed any visitors
3. That he was not allowed any phone calls
I was not told why or for how long. I inquired about his ability to communicate by mail and was assured that that was permitted. I asked if he had access to the basic necessities for such communication and the member of his team with whom I spoke was certain that he was
allowed to write and receive mail. When I pointed out that no mail was
forthcoming he assured me that he would look into the matter and see
that Phil had paper, writing implements, stamps, etc. I suspect that he
has been deprived of those basic items for well over a week and have no way of knowing whether or not he has been given mail that has been sent to him.
After this exchange I called Senator Barbara Mikulski's office and
spoke with Betty Deegan. She phoned the prison and confirmed what I had
learned earlier as well as:
1. That Phil was put in segregation on September 11, 2001 as a direct
consequence of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
2. That this was done "for his protection!" He is, she was told, a
high profile prisoner.
I would submit the following:
1. That if Philip is in segregation "for his protection" why the
punitive denial of visits with his family?
2. That Philip has no need for protection. He is a World War II
veteran. He has lived and worked much of his adult life in the harshest ghettoes of American cities (Anacostia, VA; New Orleans, LA; and Baltimore, MD). He is a veteran of more than 11 years of prison in this country. In all those years with all kinds of people and through all kinds of situations Philip has never had an incident in which his life or his well-being or his person was threatened - either in the inner city or by another prisoner. He can point to that history (and the institution can verify it) because he is practiced at working with people. He has a long and consistent history of commitment to nonviolence. He has a long and consistent history of standing for life.
He is a Christian. He will choose to accept suffering rather than
impose it on another. He has learned that that, in and of itself, is the way one can touch the mind and heart of even an enemy. He neither needs nor wants "protection." He believes that the only defense allowed us as human beings is the practice of justice; the only security assured us is that of standing together as sisters and brothers.
3. As his wife, I stand with Philip in these convictions. Neither I
nor my family will hold the prison responsible for any incident with any prisoner in which Philip might be a victim as a consequence of his convictions or his history.
I do not believe that Philip is in segregation for his protection. It has all the texture of reprisal and vindictiveness - a punishment for thinking outside the consensus and acting against our nation's love affair with weapons of mass destruction. If any of the attitude I feel and fear is present it is the absolute end of all that we say we value as a nation.
I deeply appreciate any intervention you can make to right this wrong. If you require any further information from me, I would be ready in a moment to
>>Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director.
>>Federal Bureau of Prisons
>>320 First St., NW
>>Washington, DC 20534
>>Warden, FCI Elkton
>>8730 Scroggs Road
>>P.O. Box 89
>>Elkton, Ohio 44415
>>Northeast Regional Office, Bureau of Prisons
>>U.S. Custom House, 7th Floor
>>2nd and Chestnut Streets
>>Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
>>215-521-7300, Fax: 215-521-7476
You may know that Marilyn Buck is also in segregation for the same
reason. She is being held incommunicado. We believe the same is happening with Leonard Peltier. So thanks for any attention you can give to any of these. We all need more to do in these times don't we! And it took all day to get
World Policy Institute
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New York, NY 10011
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