by Rod Coronado, Jeff Luers, Jordan Halliday and Josh Harper
Activist communities in the United States have gone through a number of cycles of heavy repression by the State, leading to many political organizers being imprisoned for substantial amounts of time. Over the past decade activists have seen the Green Scare play out, in which environmental and animal defense activists have been targeted for long prison sentences for taking action. Activists have also been targeted by grand juries, as well as experiencing high levels of infiltration, informing and entrapment. It has been a rollercoaster of a decade to see fellow activists being sentenced to many years in prison, at the same time as celebrating others being released.
While there is no doubt a lot of joy around welcoming people back to our communities who have spent time in prison, the process of integrating back into the outside world can be a stressful process for some. As is true of many difficult experiences in life, it is hard to truly know what someone is going through unless you have been there yourself. For many activists coming out of prison there are parole conditions that inhibit them from communicating with others who have been through the same thing. Out of this dilemma came the idea for this zine. Through these writings and interviews, former prisoners are sharing their experiences of life after prison with supporters and other former and current prisoners. These voices are not meant to speak for all, but show some of the diversity of experiences and feelings about life after prison.
Jeff ‘Free’ Luers grew up in the Southern Californian anti-fascist punk community. A trip to the forests of Oregon in the late 90′s resulted in him becoming the first tree-sitter in the ultimately successful Fall Creek forest campaign. In 2001 Jeff was sentenced to 22 years and 8 months on a number of counts of arson, after setting fire to 3 light trucks in a car yard in Eugene, OR. as a symbolic action highlighting the issue of climate change. There was outrage from civil liberties groups across the globe at the judge’s excessive sentencing. Jeff had a strong support campaign while in prison, and regularly wrote personal and political dispatches from prison that were widely read. After 6 years in a maximum security prison, Jeff won his appeal and his sentence was reduced to 10 years. He was released from prison in 2009 at the age of 30 after serving 9 ½ years.
Josh Harper is an animal rights activist who spent 3 years in federal prison after being charged with conspiracy to harass using a telecommunications device (sending black faxes) as part of the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign. Josh wasn’t actually charged for sending black faxes, but for simply speaking about the tactic. He was also charged with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, which has since developed into the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Five other activists, and the SHAC campaign, where charged alongside Josh. They collectively became internationally known as the SHAC 7.
Rod Coronado is an indigenous environmentalist who is best known for his direct action activism against illegal whalers, fur farmers and animal researchers in the 1980′s and 90′s. He was active in oth the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Earth First! and the now deemed terrorist organizations, Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Coronado spent six years in federal prison for his role in ALF and EF! actions related to fur farming, animal experimentation and a government lion hunt. In 2006, he was sentenced to a year in prison for a lecture about his past crimes.
Jordan Halliday is a longtime activist who was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2009 on charges related to resisting a federal grand jury investigating local illegal animal rights activities under the animal enterprise terrorism act (AETA), mainly concerning fur farm raids in Utah. He was jailed for nearly four months under a contempt of court order to compel him to testify. He was later released and indicted on criminal contempt of court. He pled guilty to “Criminal Contempt of Court” on July 27, 2010. The charge was a unique one in that it is sui generis, meaning it is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor.
Jordan was sentenced on November 3, 2010 to 10 months in prison with 3 years of probation upon release. Jordan was accused of violating his terms of parole by allegedly associating with “the vegan straightedge” by giving an interview to a clothing company. A dozen armed FBI agents raided his house and he started serving his sentence early on January 9, 2012.
Jordan was released on July 20th, 2012, his civil time running concurrent with his criminal time. He was released with 3 years of probation. On August 8th, 2013 he was granted early termination of supervision after filing a motion with his lawyer.