Last of SHAC 7 released as Kevin Kjonaas transfers to halfway house

The last of the imprisoned SHAC 7, Kevin Kjonaas, has been released from prison to a halfway house, having served nearly five years in a federal prison.

The SHAC7 are 6 activists and a corporation, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA Inc., that were found guilty of multiple federal felonies for their alleged role in campaigning to close down the notorious animal testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences. They were never accused of actually smashing windows, liberating animals or even attending demonstrations, but rather reporting on and encouraging others to engage in legal demonstrations and supporting the ideology of direct action.

Gitmo in the Heartland

On the evening of May 13, 2008, Jenny Synan waited for a phone call from her husband, Daniel McGowan. An inmate at Sandstone, a federal prison in Minnesota, McGowan was serving a seven-year sentence for participating in two ecologically motivated arsons. It was their second wedding anniversary, their first with him behind bars. So far his incarceration hadn’t stopped him from calling her daily or surprising her with gifts for her birthday, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. But Jenny never got a call from Daniel that night—or the next day, or the next.

It was only days later that Jenny heard from a friend that Daniel was in transit, his destination Marion, Illinois. She quickly researched Marion and learned that it housed both a minimum- and a medium-security facility. Daniel, however, was classified as a low-security prisoner, a designation between minimum and medium. Even though he had a perfect record at Sandstone and had been recommended for a transfer to a prison closer to home, Jenny still didn’t think it was likely that Daniel would be stepped down to minimum security. But it made no sense that he would be moved up to medium security.

By May 16 the inmate locator on the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) website showed Daniel in a variety of places, including a federal correctional facility in Terre Haute, Indiana. After speaking with several people at the BOP, Sandstone and Terre Haute to no avail, Jenny e-mailed friends, “This is seriously like pulling fucking teeth.”

Read the rest here.

SHAC 7: Supreme Court refuses to hear case

From Green is the New Red:

The Supreme Court announced today that it will not review the case of the SHAC 7, a landmark First Amendment case in which a group of animal rights activists were convicted as “terrorists” for running a controversial website.

The campaign of the SHAC 7 didn’t involve anthrax, pipe bombs, or a plot to hijack an airplane. They ran a website. On that website, they posted news about the campaign — legal actions like protests and illegal actions like stealing animals from labs — and unabashedly supported all of it.

For this they faced a slew of conspiracy charges, including conspiracy to violate theAnimal Enterprise Protection Act and commit “animal enterprise terrorism.”

The defendants lost at the trial level, and were sentenced to between one and six years in prison. Upon appeal, the Third Circuit issued a sweeping ruling. It held that SHAC’s fiery rhetoric constituted a “true threat” (even though they were never accused of destroying property, or violence, or inciting such activity) because illegal conduct has taken place in the same campaign.

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Michael Sykes, Lauren Gazzola, Carrie Feldman updates

Anarchist prisoner Michael Sykes has been transferred:

Michael Sykes 696693
Michigan Reformatory
1342 West Main Street
Ionia, MI 48846

Lauren Gazzola of the SHAC 7 has been released from prison to the custody of a half-way house:

Lauren Gazzola #93497-011

Grand jury resister Carrie Feldman is free!

Carrie was released today! The US Attorney unexpectedly filed a motion stating that her testimony was no longer needed, and now she’s out of jail and on her way back home. She’s excited to finally be free, and wants to express her gratitude to everyone for their support throughout this process.

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Lauren Gazzola’s last writing from prison

Lauren Gazzola of the SHAC 7 will be released tomorrow, Wednesday March 17th 2010.  Her last writing from prison, below, expresses gratitude to her supporters and describes her experiences living in the prison system .

lauren-gazzola“Final Blog”


I have planned to draft this blog, to be published upon my release, for a long while. But it was only at this moment, when I picked up the pen to write, that I realized its significance: my final words from prison. I am writing this March 1st, 2009, in anticipation of a possible early, unexpected release by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (I am, if nothing else, invariably prepared), and, whether I am released within the next few months, or a year from now, this is the end. I am now, either way, looking back on my prison time, no longer forward at it. How does the view differ?

I think that I am still too close to this experience to answer this question in any manner close to full, and I expect that it will remain largely unanswered for quite some time. Most likely, there are many answers, and most will require some distance. But there are some things that can be said now.

First, I must again express my thanks to all those who have supported us over these few years. I am always concerned that my “thank-yous” become more diluted each time I express them, as with anything that loses impact with familiarity, and so it is important that I express the depth of my gratitude.

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SHAC 7: Jacob Conroy released from prison

From Bite Back:

GOOD NEWS! SHAC 7 prisoner Jake Conroy has been released from federal prison to a halfway house in the Bay Area.

Jake sends his thanks for all the support while he was inside, please don’t forget about his co-defendants Lauren Gazzola and Kevin Kjonaas who are still inside prison and all the other prisoners.

Animal Rights Activist Jailed at Secretive Prison Gives First Account of Life Inside a “CMU”

From Democracy Now:

In a Democracy Now! exclusive interview, we speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at a secretive prison known as a Communication Management Unit, or CMU. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner released from a CMU and will talk about his experience there for the first time. He was sentenced to three years along with six other activists for violating a controversial law known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of CMUs. We also speak with Stepanian’s lawyer and a reporter covering the story.

Full transcript and video