|RITA LUCEY REPORTS FROM PRISON
Rita Lucey, a member of RFPI's International Board of Advisors, is currently
serving her six month sentence in federal prison at the Coleman Federal prison Camp in
Coleman, Florida, 50 miles northwest of Orlando. Rita, a 63 year old grandmother, was
convicted of criminal trespass for demonstrating in November, 1997 at Ft. Benning,
Georgia, to close the School of the Americas (VISTA, April,
She wrote to RFPI, "Mary Earley, a co-defendant and I
are blessed to have each other's companionship. I have discovered a culture, a strata of
American society that is/was unknown to me: Women in Prison...We, Mary and I, are well. We
are referred to as 'The Ladies' and treated kindly. Both have obtained jobs in the
Education Dept. where we will tutor for GED testing."
In a later letter Rita wrote, "The April Capitol
demonstration presents an opportunity for peaceful civil disobedience as the November
gathering at Ft. Benning. The need for continuous discernment concerns us as we struggle
to answer the question many of you have posed, 'Should I become a repeat offender with the
(almost) certainty of a six month sentence and a $3000 to $5000 fine?'
"Perhaps knowing something of my (our) experience
here at Coleman Prison (work camp) will help the decision making. Daily routine is
breakfast at 6, work at 7, lunch at 11, and dinner at 4:45. In between are 'counts' when
we are 'recalled' to our quarters to be counted. After the 4 pm count is MAIL CALL.
Evening activities: bible study (fundamental), yoga, aerobics, painting class, choir
practice and the use of library (minimal-nothing current). There are also classes:
parenting, AA, NA, GED. Mary and I are teaching/tutoring the various levels in all
subjects. Challenging, frustrating, and gratifying.
"Culture shock, long a learning tool for me, is
teaching tolerance in ways I don't like. The twenty four hour noise level in this 140 bed
open dorm varies only in decibels. Overhead lights, a constant, are dimmed to about 1/2
power from 10:30 to 6:30. Our 3" cotton mattress (lower bunk for over age 50) high
fat, high sugar, high salt, rounds out the major discomforts. A humbling experience?
Certainly in many ways. Work assignments, prior to GED, required calling up personal
dignity as we swept sidewalks and picked up cigarette butts. Another humbler--MAIL
CALL--To stand there nightly, among so many and receive 15 to 20 pieces of mail, while
others receive none. Our mail is mostly from strangers, who are strangers no longer, as we
share support, caring, and questioning.
For those who are asking 'Will I cross the line -- face
the same sentence as you?' We know your struggle..."
Rita's mailing address is:
Box 759 FCC-Camp
Coleman, FL 33521