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18 Months and Counting....

Reflections from Behind the Wall

Chuck TurnerPerhaps the most significant learning resulting from this unusual experience is the human capacity to "transcend time". For me, this time transcendence, this movement beyond time has come through being able to focus my mental and emotional energy on what I am trying to accomplish each moment rather than drifting into thoughts of the past or thoughts of the future. It took a while but once, I developed the technique, no longer was I in prison angry about the unfairness and yearning to be free. Its hard to put into words but there is an exhilaration that is constantly with me as I focus on living fully in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or future. .

I share the above not to cause confusion but as an attempt to explain to myself the fact that while eighteen months has passed since I arrived at Hazelton, I have no sense of time having passed. There are clear physical indications like the fact that I am sixty pounds lighter than when I came behind the wall. However, I have no internal sense of that time having passed. While I can understand how difficult it must be to understand what I am saying. I suggest that you try it. There is a freedom that comes from focusing on the Now--an escape from the regrets of the past and fears of the future.

I am certainly excited about the fact that I will soon be home. My expectation is nine or ten months. There are things that I have to regarding legal issues that still confront me. Occasionally, there are even issues from the past that require some type of action. However, my center of my attention is steadly fixed on using this moment as effectively and efficiently as possible. So whether dealing with plans for the future or work of the past, my focus is on the ever present Now. The most important aspect of this new found capacity is that I have never felt more peaceful or happy.

As I mentioned above, I have lost sixty pounds. In my Update about a year ago, I said that I had altered my eating habits based on a program, I learned about here, called the Zone, developed by Dr. Barry Sears, an endocrinologist located in Danvers, Ma. The program is based on the theory that we optimize the health of our bodies by balancing at every meal our intake of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The program also stresses minimizing eating hypoglycemic carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, pasta, corn, etc. that convert to sugar immediately.

Following the guidance of the Zone and exercizing regularly has lead not only to the weight loss but also my blood sugar count being reduced from 175 when I came in to the 80s after four months of following the Zone program. Recent blood work and a health exam indicates that I am in excellent condition and require no medications or pills which the nurses say is unusual at 72. For me, the most unusual aspect of my new approach to my physical life is my enjoyment of exercise. I now find myself looking forward to jogging 2 to 3 miles after breakfast in the morning five to six days a week. It's truly amazing!!!

My study in esoteric science is going very well. The irony is that a few years ago, I felt frustrated because I felt that I would never find enough time to combine study with practice which I felt necessary to take me to a higher state of consciousness. Now I have more time than I ever imagined possible not just to read but also to examine how the principles of esoteric science apply to my mental, emotional, and spiritual energy systems.

I am sure that some of those who cooperated in the creating the illusion that I committed a crime believed that they were ending my life of activism. They didn't realize that they were actually giving me an opportunity to sharpen my understanding of the power that we have as human beings to create a new world out of the ashes of the one that is self destructing before our eyes. What I realize even more clearly than I did before is that the driving force of the creation of the "new world" will be the realization of people throughout the globe that we must be the new world we wish to create.

Recently, unexpectedly I had the opportunity to use some of my experience during a "confrontation" between the camp administrator and all the residents of camp who had refused to go to lunch. The protest was organized by some of the men who were going to be released within the year but feared that they were not going to get "the early release time" that allows us to go to halfway houses or home confinement before our formal release date. Since I have been here, the administrative failure to secure the "early release" has been a continual concern.

All 153 of us participated in the boycott since we all had something to gain if successful. The problem was that when the administrator came to find out what was going on, none of the organizers would speak for fear that they would be sent to "solitary" for leading the action. Since I had sent in a complaint a few months ago about the situation, I spoke up and pointed out that no action had been taken on my complaint. When the administrator asked why the other men didn't send complaints, I said that they were scared that they would be punished in some way for speaking out.

When the she responded by saying that she wouldn't do that some of the other men began to speak up about their specific situations. After ten or fifteen minutes of listening, she said that she asked them to send her their complaints. Understanding that we needed some stronger commitment, at the very least what I had asked for before--the provision us the information on our rights and a discussion on the informarion, I asked her when we could get the information and a meeting to discussd the information. Her response was that she couldn't make a commitment.

Even though in prison, I couldn't believe her response and said that it wasn't good enough. She then said something to the effect that i should back down. Without really thinking about it, I said that she should send me to solitary because I had a right to ask for the meeting and would continue. She laughed and said she would let us know in a couple of weeks and would come to lunch once a week to answer questions which is a BOP policy that was not being followed here.

Some of the men were skeptical that anything would happened even after the warden came the next day, apologized, and said that he would see that we would get our "early release" time. Some also thought that I was foolish to do what I did. However, the warden and the administrator followed through as promised and there is a completely changed atmosphere where discussion now focuses on prospects for going home rather than bitterness and sense of victimization.

The paperwork for all men who are within two years of release has been prepared and submitted. Expectations is that we should all know specifically within the next three months, the date of our "early release". The information on our rights has been made available and we had a forty five minute meeting with an administrator who has been put in charge of overseeing the process. In a bureaucracy anything can happen but at this point it seems that nonviolent protest again has achieved results.

Since my "good time" release date is November 2, 2013, my early release date should be in July or August of next year. However, since my appeal lawyer is asking the US Supreme Court to review the rejection of my appeal by the First Circuit panel, there is a possibility I could be released earlier if I win at this stage of the process. Of course, since the USSC only accepts one hundred cases for review each year out of an average of 2000 requests, the odds are very long.

However, the USSC a few years ago overturned a conviction in a similar case from another Circuit where the judge had taken the same position as the judge in my case. Both judges told the jury that the government didn't have to prove that the elected official did anything in return for what was given. Even though the odds are long, it seems as if there is a possiblity. My lawyer's brief is due by next Tuesday, October 9th. I will keep you informed.

Progress is also being made on resolving on my challenge of my removal by the City Council. The SJC who at the request of Chief Justice Wolf of the Federal Court reviewed the legal issues in my case unanimously found that the Council had acted illegally as Councilor Yancey had warned them. Now Chief Justice Wolf has to decide whether to award punitive damages and pay Atty Darling's fees since he has provided the services to me free of charge.

Atty Darling has said that historically the federal court in Massachusetts give very little in punitive damages in cases where public bodies are the defendent's but he thinks there are some legal precedents that provide a strong foundation for punitive damages both for me and for the plaintiffs who brought the suit. The basis of requesting the damages is the Council's denial of voting rights through my illegal removal. He has written a brief for Summary Judgement that I believe is brillant that will be posted at

Atty Darling is requesting punitive damages of $100,000 for me and $1500 for each of the thirteen plaintiffs. I share his view that even if Judge Wolf does not rule favorably at least we have stood up for what we believe is appropriate given the Council's illegal action not just against me but also against the constituents of District 7 who had elected me. I will keep you informed as it moves forward.

Ironically, as I sit here, convicted for a crime I didn't commit, on November 13, 2012 I am being sued civilly by Safe Haven Corporation for alleged beliefs that I do not have. Life is truly strange. SafeHaven is a corporation that was established when a housing developer was not able to sell the units he had built on Juniper Street in Roxbury. The purpose of Safe Haven which was established by the developer and the developer's lawyer was and is to provide sober housing.

Neighbors asked Rep. Fox, and Senator Wilkerson and I to help them handle the situation. There were a number of concerns: 1) That the purpose for which the housing had been developed had been changed; 2) That they were ignoring zoning codes in terms of the number of people and the use of the space; 3) That there was drinking and drug use that was going on; 4) There were other concerns but since I don't remember all the details and don't want to add to my legal concerns, I'll stop here.

There were a number of public meetings held over acouple of years and the Commissioner of Housing Inspections and the Police Commissioner were very helpful. We were able through the City's action in Court to force Safe Haven to correct many of their zoning code violations and apparently achieve better management of the facility. However, in retaliation, the developer and lawyer through the corporation are suing myself; the Commissioner of Housing Inspection, Bill Good; and Senator Wilkerson.

Their legal allegation against me is that my actions were based on bias and prejudice against people with drug addictions and criminal records. Since I will not be able to appear to represent myself, my lawyer's strategy is to have people testify both from the neighborhood in terms of their requests for help as well as others who can testify about my work with those with addictions over the years.

Peace and Love,


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