Over the years we have spent time in prison and/or supported other activists who have been in prison for acts of conscience. We write to you now with a special request on behalf of Helen Woodson.
Back in November of 1984, Helen was part of the Silo Pruning Hooks action. She went to a Missouri nuclear missile silo along with Larry Cloud-Morgan, Fr. Carl Kabat OMI and Fr. Paul Kabat OMI. With sledgehammer and jackhammer, the group followed the biblical mandate of Isaiah to turn swords into plowshares. They were convicted and received a varied number of years of prison time for their action.
With the exception of a few days, Helen has been in prison ever since. (A couple of times in past years when released, she immediately engaged in an action that resulted in arrest and being returned directly to prison for violating parole.)
She is scheduled to be released in September of 2011 after 27 years behind bars.
Helen is looking forward to getting out, and at the age of 67 and with health issues, has decided to now retire from activities that might return her to prison.
It’s been a long time since she’s lived on the outside. She’ll leave prison with a sweatsuit, plus books that she’s accumulated. That’s it.
Since she will leave prison with no source of income or health coverage, she plans to apply for government assistance, but it can take six or so months for someone to find out if they are eligible to receive benefits. In the meantime, in addition to things like food and clothes, she’ll need to purchase medications for multiple health problems, at quite a significant cost. So she has asked friends to raise funds on her behalf (not money to be used while she is in prison, but for the things she’ll need once she’s released).
Her living situation once she’s released is still uncertain. It has been challenging for her to develop a plan that the Bureau of Prisons and Department of Justice find suitable since Helen will be subjected to many conditions and restrictions after her release. The couple who have invited her to live with them are still waiting to be contacted to answer the questions and receive the home visit needed to determine if Helen will be allowed to live there. Helen is very much hoping that they and their home will be approved. If not, she is not sure where she will be able to live, and it’s possible additional money will need to be raised to enable her to rent a small place to live.
In the meantime, until this becomes more clear, it will ease her mind significantly if she can at least know that she’ll be able to pay for the medicines she needs, and things like a winter coat. Can you help?
Since the beginning of the nuclear age, many thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world have been arrested for anti-nuclear civil disobedience, and hundreds have spent time in prison for these actions. None of these people (not even long-imprisoned Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu) have spent more time in prison than Helen Woodson. We ask that you join us now in providing her with needed support as she embarks on this huge transition after her many years in prison.
Please be as generous as you are able! Any amount, from $1 to $1000, will be gratefully received. Checks and money orders can be made payable to the Nuclear Resister (with “for Helen” written on the memo line) and sent to the Nuclear Resister, PO Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733. Secure online donations can be made via paypal at the Nuclear Resister website – click here – (on the final screen please click on “add special instructions to the seller” and note that the donation is for Helen).
Hartford Catholic Worker
The Nuclear Resister