Military refuser Justin Colby jailed 9 months for desertion

Army Specialist Justin Colby pled guilty to desertion at his court martial March 22, at Fort Carson, Colorado. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, a bad conduct discharge, reduction to the lowest rank (E-1) and loss of all pay allowances. Thanks to a sealed pre-trial plea agreement, SPC Colby will only be serving a 9 month prison sentence.

Colby enlisted in 2003, and during his first post to Korea, he began learning more about the war in Iraq.  When he was ordered to Iraq, Colby told his sergeant he could not make war on a country that had not attacked the United States, and asked to apply for conscientious objector status. His request was refused, and command punished and intimidated him into staying with his unit and entering the war. His experience of a year-long deployment only cemented Colby’s opposition to the war.

A family crisis following his return from Iraq added to his burden, and when Army orders for another eventual deployment to Iraq forced him to abandon efforts to gain custody of his infant son from an abusive mother, Colby went AWOL and eventually fled to Canada in the summer of 2006.

By the summer of 2012, Colby had a new family in Canada and did not face deportation because he was being sponsored for legal residency.  But because he wanted to take responsibility and not be separated from his extended family south of the border, Colby quietly returned last July to military custody at Fort Carson. He fulfilled assigned duties while attempting to negotiate an administrative discharge in lieu of court-martial. That request was denied, leading to his plea agreement and court martial.  Justin Colby’s public statement can be read in full here.

Justin Colby is currently being held in the county jail in Colorado Springs awaiting transport to military correctional facility. Justin will, however, have the opportunity (likely in 3-6 months) to request clemency from the commanding general of Fort Carson. His attorney and supporters are asking for supporters of Justin Colby to write letters to the general asking that Colby be given an early release form prison so he can be back with his family. They ask that all letters be respectful.

Please send all letters to: 
Maj. General Paul J. LaCamera
Public Affairs Office
1626 Ellis Street  Ste. 200, Bldg.118
Fort Carson, CO 80913, USA
Fax: 1-719-526-1021

Please also send copies of the letters to Justin Colby’s civilian attorney (this is important because he needs copies of the letter to submit in the formal clemency process). These copies can be sent to:

James M. Branum
Attorney at Law
PO Box 721016
Oklahoma City, OK 73172
Fax: 1-866-757-8785
Email: girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com

Further updates will be posted at

Letters should be sent to Justin Colby at the address listed here.