More Questions than Answers about Jackie’s condition

Friends,

This has been, and continues to be, a difficult time for all of us who know and love Sr. Jackie Hudson. First – Please know that there is an extraordinary convergence of people, including lawyers and physicians who are working virtually 24/7 on Jackie’s behalf. As of this moment none of us has had direct contact with Jackie, and so we cannot confirm her present health status. That having been said, here is what we know.

Since Sr. Carol Gilbert, who is also at Irwin County Detention Center, informed us (on May 29th) of Jackie’s severe chest pain and that nothing was being done for her medical condition, Joe Power-Drutis immediately set a process in motion to secure her transportation to a hospital to reserve proper medical care. He contacted everyone possible, and engaged 2 physicians and 3 attorneys to engage directly with the prison staff. The prison has been completely uncooperative, only saying that Jackie “was being taken care of.” She is evidently in the prison medical facility (God only knows what that is like!!!).

At one point there was an indication that Jackie may have been transported to the local hospital and then returned to the jail. However, a followup conversation with staff at the local hospital confirmed that Jackie has not been admitted there, and he staff indicated that theirs is the only hospital in the area. There is absolutely no evidence that Jackie has been sent anywhere for proper medical evaluation.

The prison medical facility, as far as I know, is ill equipped to evaluate or treat Jackie’s possible medical condition and experts (MDs) agree that based on her presentation to prison medical staff, she should have been immediately transported to a hospital emergency facility for a thorough cardiac work-up.

Based on all the information we have received it appears that her treatment since her chest pain began, even beyond her basic medical needs, has been substandard and inhumane.

The legal team working on Jackie’s behalf includes Bill Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Anabel Dwyer, lawyer and international human rights expert; and Blake Kramer, Tacoma-based attorney who has been deeply involved in defending the Disarm Now Plowshares. I understand that the legal team is currently working every possible angle, and one involves getting the Judge for the Y-12 trial, which was the reason for Jackie’s current imprisonment, to order her release/transport to the hospital.

Another major concern and an egregious disregard for the rule of law is prison’s refusal to allow Jackie’s right to legal counsel. Jackie’s court-appointed attorney, Brad Henry, found out at the jail that the Warden told all the staff at the jail that no information was to be given out about Jackie, including her appointed council. The prison is stonewalling every step of the way.

Beyond the obvious moral and ethical implications of the prison’s treatment of Jackie Hudson, it is evident that she is being deprived of her Constitutional rights as well as essential human rights. This on top of Jackie’s very real status as a Prisoner of Conscience, quite literally a political prisoner in a nation that flouts both national law and international humanitarian law and then imprisons those who follow their conscience and the law to speak and act out to call on our nation to uphold these laws.

This maltreatment must not stand. The people operating Irwin County Detention Center, a private, for profit prison, must be held accountable for their actions. If this is how they treat Jackie, someone with a broad base of support, I can only imagine the mistreatment of a vast number of prisoners who have no one to advocate on their behalf. What of the forgotten???

Besides the work being done by this dedicated group to whom I’ve referred, many of you out there are working on Jackie’s behalf, and for this I thank you all! We evidently flooded the prison phone line with calls, and I have no doubt that this has had an impact. They know we are watching! I have contacted the ACLU of Georgia, asking them to act on Jackie’s behalf. We are working on alerting media locally(Georgia), regionally and nationally to Jackie’s plight, and will also be contacting members of Congress to act on her behalf.

What can you do to help Jackie? For one thing, we can continue to call, fax and/or email the prison to let them know we are watching and demand that they send Jackie to the hospital. The phone number is 229-468-4121. You may get a recorded message during some hours. There is also an email listed: info@irwincdc.com.  Fax is 229-468-4186 Additional phone numbers: Warden Barbara Walrath – warden of Irwin County Detention Center, 229-468-4120, Dr. Howard C. McMahan – Medical Director of Irwin County Detention Center, 229-468-5177. If you get into a message system, LEAVE A MESSAGE!

Here are some suggested talking points:

Sr. Jackie Hudson, who is in your care and for whom you are responsible, has had intense heart pain, which began Saturday afternoon. She is being obstinately denied proper medical care. Her symptoms suggest that she may have one or more occluded coronary arteries. If this is the case, her heart, as a muscle, will progressively worsen in the hours and days to come.

Jackie must be taken to an emergency room immediately. The Emergency Department at the Irwin County Hospital verifies that Sr. Jackie has not been taken to their hospital, and that there is no other local hospital to which she might have been taken. They Emergency Department has been in contact with the ICDC to no avail.

Such treatment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and if Sister Jackie is not moved to an emergency room immediately and suffers any negative medical consequences as a result I will hold Michael Croft Enterprises, operator of ICDC and in particular Warden Barbara Walrath and Medical Director Howard C. McMahon personally responsible.

Those supporting Jackie Hudson must have direct access to her and her physicians so they know her whereabouts, her condition and her treatment. These people include: Sue Ablao, Sr. Jackie’s housemate at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Poulsbo, WA; Frank Hudson, Sr. Jackie’s brother; Sister Nathalie Meyer O.P., provincial of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Sr. Jackie’s religious order; and Brad Henry, Jackie’s attorney.

Send an email to (or call) any news media contacts you have, or even if you don’t have any you email the newsroom (look them up in the contacts section of that newspaper’s Website).

I understand that the Koinonia Partners community in Americus, Georgia, is planning a vigil at the prison tomorrow.

As I stay focused on dear Jackie’s immediate needs I find myself also focusing on a much broader issue. Here is a person with so much support from so many wonderful people. And yet, there is a huge percentage of the U.S. prison population (with the largest incarceration rate in the world) for whom there is no support. What becomes of these forgotten prisoners when they become ill??? We will take up that issue once we get Jackie taken care of!!!

One last thing before I close; an excerpt from something by Liz McAllister and Chrissy Nesbitt of the Jonah House community that I find quite pertinent today:

It is Memorial Day as we write. Meaning no disrespect, but on this “war heroes’ weekend”, isn’t it time to also honor those who have “fallen” in a different battle – against the slaughtering wars?

It often takes a different kind of moral and, yes, even physical courage to resist a war and/or a weapons system that you believe is a crime, when all your family, friends, teachers and the vast American majority support them.

But what about the Sr. Jackie Hudsons who don’t want to kill people, who don’t believe it is right to build more and more weapons of mass destruction? They’re an odd breed who count among their number such as Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Sergeant York, David Hockney, three US weapon-refusing combat medics who won the medal of honor. What kind of guts does it take for war objectors, whether they’re Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites or Roman Catholic, who simply don’t want to kill? On this Memorial Day, it might be a time to think about the outcasts who refuse to take life. Should Sr. Jackie Hudson be required to give her life in a jail that displays absolutely no respect for life? Is this what the U.S. is about?

That’s all for now. In between these emails I am regularly updating the Disarm Now Plowshares Blog as I hear of anything that you should know. Please check in at the top of the home page occasionally for updates. And – Please forward this email far and wide.

Thanks to all who have offered to help in so many ways. As bad as this all is, Jackie is surrounded by such a wonderful, loving community, and I can imagine that this knowledge is deeply embedded in Jackie’s heart and mind, and that it is a great comfort to her.

Peace,

Leonard

Note:  Check the top of this Blog daily as I will post any small updates there as I receive them.

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