by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley
U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar of the Eastern District of Kentucky is a George W. Bush appointee to the Federal Bench. This week, Tharper has sentenced an 84 year old nun, Sister Megan Rice, to almost three years in prison. 35 months to be exact. Her crime? Protesting at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Y-12 plant in 2012. Co-defendants Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were sentenced to 62 months in prison.
There is no dispute that Sister Megan and her co-defendants cut a fence and entered the grounds of the complex. They painted, “The fruit of justice is peace,” on walls and splashed baby bottles of human blood on the bunker wall.
“The reason for the baby bottles was to represent that the blood of children is spilled by these weapons,” Boertje-Obed, 58, said at trial. When confronted by a security guard, they offered him food and began singing. They were charged with defacing the property and breaking into a secure facility.
Oak Ridge uses private security contractors rather than Federal employees. The break-in caused Oak Ridge to revise security protocols and provide added training to security guards.
A defiant Sister Megan Rice challenged Judge Thapar to sentence her to life in prison, “Please have no leniency with me,” Rice told a stunned courtroom where she had an audience of supporters who had traveled from across the country to be there. “To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me.”
The prosecutors had asked for sentences of six to nine years and $53,000 in restitution. Judge Tharper seemed concerned that the defendants were not properly contrite. Tharper previously refused requests for leniency from the defendants, including ordering them incarcerated until sentencing. Last October the judge denied requests for acquittal and a new trial, Thapar said he was concerned they showed no remorse and wanted the punishment to be a deterrent for other activists.
The Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge is where critical parts for nuclear weapons are made. It was originally built during WW2 for manufacturing the fissionable cores for the first atomic bombs.
The politics and hypocrisy of the US Attorney asking for six to nine years in prison for the defendants, and then to make the Government whole by demanding $53,000 in restitution would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. The prosecutor seems to either be math challenged or sadistic. Maybe both. He wanted them to get six to nine years, and it costs between $50,000 and $60,000 per year to keep a person locked up in a Federal penitentiary. Older inmates cost even more, as I wrote in my piece on the Turley blog about the greying of our prison population.
I find it interesting that the Obama/Holder DoJ is so hell-bent on prosecuting protesters and whistleblowers, but the banksters and other economic criminals who have brought our economy and workforce to its knees have yet to answer for their crimes. Also, while we see this aggressive prosecution of an octogenarian nun, I find the hypocrisy of the administration’s criticism of crackdown on protesters by other governments to be puzzling. Well, no, not really.
As usual, we look overseas for some of the best news and analysis of stories here in the US.