Carol Gilbert’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement

Judge Guyton, before I begin my prepared statement I want to apologize for how I look and hope my mind is operating because the last 31 hours have been hectic.  We were awakened at 2 am and left Ocilla at 4:30 am with the officer driving 80 -90 miles an hour plus about half of the trip texting.  I don’t know what the law is in TN or GA but in MD and in MI that is illegal. You might not think I am a very law and order person but my friends would tell you I am. We arrived about 11:30 am and were given a very nice lunch by the marshals. We then sat in the holding cell for most of the afternoon and then taken for processing.  We arrived in our cells at 10:30 pm and were taken out again at 5 am for court.  The jail also ran out of combs to give us. So, I apologize to you.

One of the charisms of my Dominican religious order is “to give to others the fruits of your contemplation.”

These past 131 days I have contemplated what if anything I would say to this court.

Four clarifications need to be made:

1.)     We do not choose jail. Anyone who has ever been in jail, prison, or even a lock-up would never choose it.  We do choose non-violent direct action. We do choose civil resistance enough to risk arrest and incarceration.  We do choose to try and uphold Article 6 of the United States Constitution (the supremacy clause) which was not allowed in this courtroom. We do choose life over death.  But, we do not choose jail.

2.)     I chose not to testify at trial because of your order which would silence my truth.  Your order spoke of lack of “imminence”. I believe that every human being and all species are my brothers and sisters.  These last 131 days have only strengthened for me how imminent our action was.

The United States cannot at one, refurbish and upgrade nuclear warheads at Y-12 Oak Ridge for deployment, threat or use and abide in good-faith by promises to adhere to humanitarian law, the laws of war limiting the use of force and our obligation in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Criminal Code and I understand the U.S. Military Code.

We met women both in Blount County Detention Center, Maryville, TN and Irwin County Detention Center, Ocilla, GA
who had friends, relatives, spouses or themselves that worked or lived near Y-12.  We heard stories of cancers, deaths, class action suits, loss of jobs due to contamination, money awards, environmental contamination and radiated deer. We heard from peacemakers where on 279 out of 365 days last year, the water leaving the Y-12 facility was contaminated beyond safe drinking water levels.  This speaks to me of imminence!

3.)     This court has no understanding of the difference between civil disobedience and civil resistance.  Civil disobedience means breaking a specific law.  One example from our history is the African-American population who broke the racist Jim Crow municipal ordinances by sitting at lunch counters legally prohibited from serving them.  Civil resistance is upholding the laws.  The necessity defense and Nuremburg principals say that citizens have a responsibility and a duty to resist illegal government crimes.

In many countries around the world and sometimes in this country people are acquitted for these non-violent actions.  Our Y-12 action on July 5, 2010 was an act of civil resistance.

4.)     I want to explain why Sister Ardeth Platte and I chose not to comply with supervised release after trial.  We had been on ten months of strict supervised release which we followed to the letter of the law.

When we appeared here in July of 2010 you gave us permission to go to our motherhouse in MI for meetings.  Usually, we have been on unsupervised release where we just signed a paper promising to return to court and not break any laws. So, when we got to Baltimore the papers did not read we could travel outside of MD.  We did finally get approval after many phone calls. Then in October we had a college student group and we wanted to take them to a trial in VA for a Pentagon peace action. When I called the probation department the officer said he would need to call TN.  He called back a few hours later and said if it was up to him he would give permission but after talking to TN he could not say yes. We could not participate in any demonstrations, vigils, rallies, prayer services, even our local death penalty vigil all of which were legal and First Amendment rights. Another hardship was parking when we had to visit the probation office as the costs were at least $8 and sometimes as high as $18 which were prohibitive for us. We could not work with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community on Faith and Resistance Retreats held three times a year in D.C. We also knew that after the guilty verdict we would need to return to TN for PSI reports and sentencing and it seemed better to begin serving the time.

These 131 days most of which were spent in a “for profit, private jail” (and that is a whole other story) taught me again how we treat the poorest in this country-the throw aways:

pain clinics, addictions, trauma, conspiracy laws, no trials, plea bargains, mandatory minimums, over-crowded federal and state prisons and lack of medical care – you know what happened to our Sister Jackie, may she rest in peace, and hers is one of many stories I could share.

I want to close with a story about our Sister Jackie Hudson.  When Jackie was giving a presentation she always ended by asking people “to take one step outside of their comfort zone.

Each of the warheads prepared or refurbished at Y-12 is known and intended to threaten or inflict vast, indiscriminate and uncontrollable heat, blast and radiation.   Life as we know it would cease.

After ten months of strict supervised release and 131 days in jails we come before this court as drops of water…drops of water that over time can wear away the stone.

And so Judge Guyton, prosecutors, U.S. Marshalls, court workers and friends, I stand before you today, in the memory of our Sister Jackie, who was to be sentenced in this courtroom on Monday, September 19th and say, “Let’s all take one step outside of our comfort zone.” Jackie Hudson, Order of Preachers, PRESENTE!

Sentencing Statement
September 16, 2011 –Knoxville TN
Carol Gilbert, OP
(Y-12 Action July 5, 2010)


“a short note from Lynne”… Wrapping up the week

Update      September 17, 2011 [By Joe Power-Drutis]

Lynne Greenwald & Bix

We got a short note from Lynne, it did not say much; in fact by its
very absence of relevant information one might deduct the bullies at
SeaTac have demanded her silence. She now has a release date of Sept
26th, the original date set by the judge. Lynne stated upon her
release she wishes to leave the facility alone, bus to Tacoma and go
to the probation office to sign papers beginning a year of probation.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with an ACLU attorney in
Knoxville when Jackie was going through such unjust care and treatment
– “…….the inmate has so few civil rights, one could almost say they
are nonexistent – they certainly are not the same as for you and I” Continue reading

Carol Gilbert: Preaching and Living Peace

Dear Friends,

In her sentencing statement earlier today Carol Gilbert was clear, concise, honest and bold:

 We do not choose jail. We do choose nonviolent direct action. We do choose to try to uphold Article 6 of the United States Constitution which was not allowed in this courtroom. We do choose life over death. But we do not choose jail. Continue reading

Y-12 Sentencings: Day 3, Part 1, Carol Gilbert

DAY THREE • 16 September 2011 • Part I, Carol Gilbert

[with Thanks to Ralph Hutchison]

Carol Gilbert, arrested at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in July 2010 and convicted in May 2011 on a misdemeanor trespass charge, appeared before Judge Bruce Guyton for sentencing on Friday, September 16, 2011. Carol’s pre-sentencing investigation determined her sentencing range—points for prior offenses, added to points for the current offense—at 1-7 months. Continue reading

Carol Gilbert’s Letter from Jail

Editor’s Note: Sr. Carol Gilbert, OP, is one of the Y-12 Prisoners of Conscience currently at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, awaiting sentencing for her participation in the July 2010 nonviolent resistance action at the Y-12 bomb (uranium facility) plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  More on Carol Gilbert at the Jonah House Website.

May 25, 2011

Dear Friends,

   Welcome to another of America’s gulags – this one in Eastern TN – the Blount County Correctional Facility in Maryville, TN!

   This is day number 15 and I want to begin the journey with a quote from Jarhead by Anthony Swofford and his experiences as a Marine in Operation Desert shield. “What follows is neither  true nor false but what I know.”…and heard, saw, tasted, smelled and touched.

   DAY 1. Around 7:30 p.m. we are placed in a typical holding cell with no mattresses, 2 benches of concrete, toilet/sink combo and blanket given many hours later.  

 We are taken out one by one for processing which consists of answering typical intake forms, fingerprints, picture and hospital type bright orange arm bands to distinguish us from the county folks wearing blue/white armbands, the de-liceing shower and stripped uniforms (black and white if new; shades of grey if older (the color everything becomes) and flip flops for shoes. The one pair of old socks, underpants and t-shirt must last until commissary. We were supposed to get two of everything but they have run out with 2-300 extra. So no laundry bag or crate either. We make an attempt to sleep on the concrete slabs but it’s a long night. We tell stories, laugh, sing.

DAY 2 – Close to 8:30 a.m. we are shackled, given an indigent bag: one small comb, 2 tiny bars of soap, 2 sample size packages of toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo. We are handed two towels and two sheets that I’m sure at one time were lily white.

   Carol, Ardeth and Bonnie are taken to the higher classification pod where all federal women prisoners are held. But Jackie and Jean go next door to the other lower classification pod – they would never keep all 5 of us together.

    We are immediately surrounded by women offering us books, shampoo, etc. Because the Feds pay so much to rent this space, we are to receive a bunk and mattress which means some now go without and sleep on concrete until other places can be found.

   The jail pod has a large day room holding 8 metal tables with a metal stools built in. Each table holds 4 people, for a total of 32; there’s one stainless steel toilet/sink, two phones with one cement seat, one shower in the center and a small open area. 8 cells are on the bottom floor and 8 on the top floor. Each cell is 6 by 12 with bunk beds, toilet/sink combo, small metal desk-stool, and a small slotted window frosted so one can’t see out. Most cells hold three women and sometimes 4. So far I have had only two other prisoners with me. 3 is crowded!

   This jail has no TV, no newspapers one can subscribe to or magazines, no greeting cards, no articles, no quotes from Scripture on a letter, no puzzles, no games, no books from publishers, no, no, no, and no! They do sell a cheap radio for $45.00 plus $10.00 for ear phones and $2.25 for a battery. That cost means many go without.

   Twice a week we are allowed to go to a cement cage outside with a net above to see the sky and feel the air and sun.

   Library cart comes once a week and each is allowed two books – a few good ones.

   Commissary is on Wednesday. A stamped business envelope is $.65 – $.21 for the envelope makes someone profit as does our liquid Fresh Mint toothpaste from India and our 3 inch toothbrushes (1 inch brush, 2 inch handle).

   Pens are only the cartridge and make writing difficult but the women get “vinegar bags” and use this as a tape to make them thicker. I’ll let you, the reader, research “vinegar bags”.

   Lots of commissary items are “Bob Border.” It would be interesting to follow the money trail for commissary. Another distributor is Maxima Supply, Holt, MI for hard candy.

   Our schedule is as follows:
            6:00 a.m.                     Bright lights on
            6:30 – 8:30 a.m.          Breakfast/Meds/Day Room
            8:30 – 11:30 a.m.        Lockdown
            11:30 – 1:30 p.m.        Lunch/Meds/Day Room
            1:30 – 4:30 p.m.          Lockdown
            4:30 – 8:30 p.m.          Supper/Meds/Day Room
            8:30 p.m.– 6:00 a.m.   Lockdown

   When we are in the Day room, our cells are locked. There are two stand-up counts – around 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. the lights are dimmed after 10:0.m. count but still bright enough to read.

 Meals –
            Breakfast         2 biscuits, Jelly, Sweet, watery Oatmeal, Carton of Milk, Coffee
                                    (the only exception is Tuesday when Cheerios replaces Oatmeal)
            Lunch              Peanut Butter Sandwich – one week
                                    Bologna-Mustard Sandwich – alternate weeks
                                    1 small bag plain Frito Lays’ Chips
                                    1 cup water
            Supper             Pinto Beans, Corn Bread, Cole Slaw,
                                    Mashed Potatoes/ Peas/ Green Beans (one of these three)
                                    Jello or Package of Teddy Grahams
                                   Every other night they will serve one or the other of the food below
                                                 Iceberg salad or Noodle dish,
                                                 Mashed or French Fried potatoes
                                                 Jello or Teddy Grahams

   The phone calls are from a company called City Telephone Coin and expensive. A study should be done on phone companies to jails and prison – who profits! A 15 minute limit and the call could be over $20.00

DAY 9 – All seven of us met in an intake holding cell for Mass with Fr. Brent Sheldon and Deacon Juan Hernandez from Holy Fatima in Alroa. Maryville has no Catholic church as the Catholic population in TN is 2%.

   This was the first time I ever went to mass in a holding cell and in leg shackles. (This jail has a practice of putting leg shackles on when moving outside the block no matter how short the distance.) What a gift to receive the Eucharist in this setting.

   It was here we learned we are not getting our mail. They claim we are getting too much and they don’t know how they will handle it.

DAY 10 – I was taken out for my PSI (pre-sentencing investigation) report so both probation and my attorney were present. It appears we will be taken from here and moved to a holding facility in Ocilla, GA until sentencing which looks like late September.

DAY 11 – Most of the women are here on drug charges of some kind. The drug of choice in this area is prescription drugs. The city is filled with these so called “pain clinics.”
   this is also a holding facility for women going to TN state prison. Because of such over-crowding in the 3 state women’s facilities, women can be held here for years!

   Both of my cell mates are poor and had terrible childhoods – drugs, alcoholism, lack of education, early pregnancies. Their stories and tears are like so many others in here and across the country. We are warehouses with no real help and one wonders how the cycle can end. They believe God sent us to them as angels.

     A 70 year old LPN has been locked up here for three years for killing her abusive husband and trial date is now set for late August.

   A disturbed, mentally ill woman here for 19 months awaiting her trip to state prison.

   The unique feature for us is that the women are all white! We understand the men’s blocks have lots of Hispanics from immigration and some blacks.

DAY 12 – We were taken in shackles, down the hall to medical for our T tests. A great time to visit with Jackie and Jean. We were able to sing Jean an early Happy Birthday as she turned 84 a few days later.

   Our cell block was put on full lock-down at lunch. This means we are in our cells 23 hours a day with one cell out at a time for one hour. There was no fight but things were getting a little tense with a mentally ill woman and a few other women who haven’t yet learned how to respond in a nonviolent way. We do not know how long, but the rumor is two weeks. That makes for a long day and so most of these young women learn the art of sleeping – such a waste!

   The hardest part is that I don’t get to talk to Ardeth and Bonnie!

   Sometimes the entire block has been locked down for as long as 3 months or more.

DAY 13 –  Today was our first serving of FRUIT since arriving! A small serving of mandarin oranges never looked or tasted so good. It’s the little things we appreciate.

DAY 14 – My first visit was from 7 – 8 p.m. through plexiglass with a phone. Four local peacemakers caught me up to date. These folks are doing the real work – SUPPORT.

   Visits are 1 hour a week and your day and time of visit is determined by your cell number. Starting at 8:a.m. and the last visit is 8 p.m. This can make it difficult for someone who works and has the visit during their work hours.

   I heard on my visit that Sr. Mary Dennis has a sentencing date of September 21st.

DAY 15 – The day is just beginning and our cell is brighter so we know the sun is shining even though we can’t see it.

   Some final thoughts as I close out these first two weeks.

   I’m learning about the South with their biscuits and gravy, the accents, the country music, the new words for grandma and grandpa of mamow and popow, the missing or no teeth and the Body Farm.

   The University of TN is home to an anthropology Research Facility (The Body Farm). The founder and an author have written a series of fiction and non-fiction on the farm. I read Body of Betrayal (novel) which takes place at Y-12, Oakridge.

   There are some women who talk about the cancers, the class action suits, the deaths from exposure of relatives and friends at Y-12.

   I’m reminded once again how simple life can be, how little we need to survive. That grace is given when I see these women live this day by day and keep a sense of sanity after months and/or years in this place.

   The effects of a country that continues to spend billions on bombs and prisons can be seen, felt, heard, touched and smelled in this space.

   We are well and long to hear of your stories these past weeks. My gratitude, love, prayers and support.
                                                                                             Carol Gilbert,O.P.

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