~ from MDC Brooklyn, by Sr. Megan Rice

Megan Rice 88101-020
MDC Brooklyn
Metropolitan Detention Center
P.O. Box 329002
Brooklyn, NY 11232

April, 2015

Dear friends, promoters of ways to make real the energies of the social gospel in our midst, helping fairness and justice flourish wherever you are and sharing your stories through your faithful letters to prisoners of conscience,

Being a recipient of each of your letters is a source of growth and strength, not only to me, but for the many women here with whom I can share your wise and loving tidbits. They are such a source of enrichment to many in this way. As always a desire to respond personally persists, and must go unfulfilled, though your thoughts and questions are treasured.

One bit of good news since my last letter was perhaps sparked by reporter Linda Stasi’s article in the New York Daily News* about the presence here of this 85-year-old non-saboteur. A group from the National Association of Women Judges – several federal judges and one New York state judge – actually took time to come to visit our two women’s units and personally speak with any of us who cared to be involved and meet with them individually. Of course it was short – maybe less than an hour in each unit – but extremely heartening to those who have never had an opportunity to chat informally and in friendly ways with active judges, concerned to understand the situation here.

The publicity has led some to ask for suggestions about how people can help. We all are equally responsible to do what we feel able to do: be informed, reflect, analyze, act. Here we are preparing lists of unnecessary and unexamined situations, but it takes time to sort it all out into practical issues which then need to be addressed as played out individual cases.

Take “Gina”, a Haitian immigrant friend who recently informed me that she began her time in Federal Prison in 1981, and pronounced it so sturdily, while informing me of her very imminent departure – perhaps to face deportation. Fortunately I learned in time to refer her case to Casa Cornelia, a Law Center founded by some of our Sisters in San Diego who specialize in immigration problems like hers, and already they have suggestions to make in Gina’s case.

While local friends have been able to assist in finding some legal help for women here, the need is urgent for local (retired) lawyers to be found who can assist inmates who need second opinions. The women need consultants they can trust, especially out-of-towners who have no connections in New York while imprisoned here away from young families for years pre-trial or pre-sentencing!

Others are engaged in working with special groups like Families Against Mandatory Minimums, who are giving encouragement to victims of harsh mandatory sentencing standards and the current possibilities for clemency.

I am very much aware that much good is or can be happening at each local jail and prison by folks like each of my faithful correspondents. I urge all of you concerned for the prison situation here and around the world, especially where overcrowding makes restorative justice receive back-burner inattention, to look close to home for groups you can help in their ministry to prisoners and their families.

One last suggestion: If you will be in New York for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and the Peace and Planet mobilization of nuclear disarmament activists, please join in or support SHADOWS AND ASHES, a Nonviolent Direct Action for Nuclear Disarmament at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations on April 28. A flyer for the event is here.
Failing empires which follow mindless policies are oblivious of being guided by the values and principles of the social gospel. May we learn to uphold these values with ever growing fidelity, as each of you inspire us to do where ever we are. Blessings and gratitude for life as we ‘Spring forward’ into this new growing season.

Lovingly and gratefully, Megan SHCJ

* “EXCLUSIVE: 84-year-old activist nun imprisoned in Brooklyn jail hellhole for breaking into nuclear facility, exposing security flaws”, New York Daily News, Monday, January 19, 2015 http://nydn.us/1aD5omI

For more information, visit these websites:
Transform Now Plowshares: www.transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance: www.orepa.org
the Nuclear Resister: www.nukeresister.org