Earlier this week, the media caught wind that celebrated climate activist Tim DeChristopher had been moved from a minimum security camp to “isolated confinement” in an 8-by-10 foot cell at a medium security prison. Why? The transfer was requested by an “unnamed senator” over a completely harmless e-mail DeChristopher had sent to his environmental organization, Peaceful Uprising. Luckily, DeChristopher’s supporters mobilized, and with help from the likes of Think Progress, Rolling Stone and many more, phone calls about DeChristopher’s unjust treatment overwhelmed Congress and the Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C. Two nights ago, DeChristopher was moved back to his minimum security prison, where he is serving a two-year sentence for placing a false bid on an oil and gas lease auction in 2008.
While DeChristopher was still in isolated confinement, Rolling Stone‘s Jeff Goodall looked into how this breach of logic (and ethics) could occur. In the e-mail that landed DeChristopher in the medium security prison, the activist questioned whether he ought to give back a $25,000 donation from a corporate donor who was laying off workers and exporting manufacturing jobs. According to Rolling Stone, prison software likely picked up the word “threat” in the e-mail’s benign content, and the congressman (“some oil-funded hack, no doubt,” Goodall pointed out) used it as reason to throw DeChristopher under tighter lock and key and limit his phone calls to 15 minutes per month.
DeChristopher may be back to where he started serving his sentence, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still being held under investigation, for which there is no time limit and no opportunity to appeal. It’s also seriously scary that this transfer could happen quietly, behind the scenes. Peaceful Uprising’s Dylan Schneider insisted to Rolling Stone that there ought to be a proper inquiry into DeChristopher’s confinement.
“There needs to be an investigation into how a call from a congressman got Tim thrown in isolation and what that says about the American justice system,” Schneider told the magazine. ” What would have happened to Tim if no one was watching?”
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