Susan’s Probation Hearing: A Question of Conscience

Today in Judge Benjamin Settle’s courtroom in Tacoma, Washington Susan Crane continued to drive home the illegality and immorality of nuclear weapons. She started by saying that the Plowshares group went to the US Naval Base to speak the truth about the need to disarm the illegal and immoral nuclear warheads. In court they tried to speak the truth about the nuclear weapons, but the court would not allow their defense.

Susan was in court to answer to three violations of her supervised release.  The U.S. Attorney, Brian Werner, said that he understood Susan’s objection to nuclear weapons.  But he didn’t understand why she wouldn’t follow the rules of supervised release.

Susan responded that she wants to be clear about why she won’t comply with supervised release.  She was obeying the law when she entered the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific. The weapons stored there are so horrendous.  “We are watching the world be destroyed right before us,” she said.  “It requires all the imagination we can muster to change this situation.  The conditions imposed by the Federal Probation Office colonize my thinking.”

Probation officer Todd Skipworth stated that Susan is not a danger to the public, but nevertheless should be sanctioned for her noncooperation.  In his 13 years as a probation officer he has never had anyone not cooperate with the conditions of supervised release.  Still, he did not see incarceration “benefiting anyone here.”  He recommended community service “other than the Catholic Church or Plowshares.”

Attorney Blake Kremer read a letter from Larry Purcell of the Redwoood City Catholic Worker who spoke of Susan’s contributions.  Franciscan priest Louis Vitale spoke about how important it is for people to follow conscience.   He read from Gaudium et Spes:

In the depths of her conscience, she detects a law which  she does not impose upon himself, but which holds her to obedience. Always summoning her to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to her heart: do this, shun that. For people have in their heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of humanity; according to it they will be judged. [Cf. Rom. 2:15-16.] Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a person. There they are alone with God, Whose voice echoes in their depth. [Cf. Pius XII, March 23, 1952: AAS (1952), p. 271] In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor.

Judge Settle said that he was sorry to hear about St. Anne Mongtomery’s health, and that he thought she was looking forward to a her new life to come,  and he was too.  He ended up sentencing Susan to 60 days prison, which will be served at FCI Dublin.  He went on to say, “One day the lion will lie down with the lamb.”

One Response

  1. This topic is what mainstream media are NOT addressing!

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