First Post-Prison Statement from SHAC 7 Prisoner Jacob Conroy
The fourth of the SHAC 7 prisoners to be released, Jacob Conroy walked out of the federal prison in Terminal Island on November 6th. Jake spent 3 years in prison on Interstate Stalking and Animal Enterprise Terrorism charges for his involvement in the SHAC campaign. This is his first post-prison statement:
November 17, 2009 Dispatch from Jake
On November 6th, 2009, I walked out of Terminal Island and left behind the actual imprisonment portion of my sentence. Honestly, the date snuck up on me and the actual release is something that still doesn’t feel real to me. Having a going-home party the night before, emptying out my locker, saying goodbye to friends, even sitting in the holding cell at the Receiving and Departure department – it didn’t really compute that I was walking out of the gates for good. But it slowly is starting to sink in now.
When you’re in prison, most everyone refers to the halfway house as “going home”. The rest call it a trap, set up to send you back to prison. I’ve found that it falls somewhere in between. Technically, yes, the halfway house is a 15 minute drive from my house; but I can’t go there. Not to use the phone or email to look for a job, or to pick up clothes or toiletries. While I don’t think anyone has set it up to entrap you, it is definitely so bogged down with regulations and bureaucracy that a smooth and successful reentry into society and the job force is nearly impossible. Of the 75 people here, to say 25% of them are gainfully employed and therefore permitted to see their loved ones on weekends, would be a liberal estimation. To survive mentally, you have to constantly remind yourself that this is not time off your sentence to do as you please, rather the last leg of your current one.
After my first week, I’m able to leave one hour each day for recreation, and on week days I’m permitted to leave to pre-approved locations to look for a job. So I’m getting out of the house and starting to experience the world again. It’s a process that made me realize how confined we are in prison and one that quickly becomes overwhelming. Walking up and down hills, being in a completely enclosed space, like a bathroom and not having to be in a locked cell or tier in order to be counted is all new to me again and its interesting to see my reactions to it.
It’s not all terrible though. The room I share with 5 other guys would normally hold at least 12 in prison. The bathroom is private and it amazes me that albeit a small one, it’s the size of the 2 man cell I lived in. I’m restocking my vitamin B12 intake at the Whole Foods that’s within walking distance and marveling at all the newjunkfood. Eventually I’ll get around to trying it all.
Doing time would hardly be time at all if they provided vegan food. But why start now. Thankfully I’m allowed to have food dropped off for me (which unfortunately can not be stored – it’s either eaten right away or it goes in the trash) and I have the greatest group of friends who bring me a hot vegan meal every night, even though they can’t stay and visit. It’s really hard to see them for just a minute, but my heart and stomach thank them. The support has really been incredible.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who sent me a letter, postcard, photo, magazine, book, support and love over the past 3 years. I can’t even explain what that does for a prisoner. I really couldn’t have done the time without you. So please – go to a prisoner support list and write one today. Unfortunately, I lost touch or was unable to write back most of my political prisoners in any way you can, drop me a line and if you know anyone in the Bay Area that has a job opening for a federal felon, let me know!in the last few months of my incarceration. In the beginning of August I sliced my hand on some irresponsibly hung razor wire, cutting through the tendon in my middle finger, down to the bone. I had to be brought to the emergency room and have it repaired. I’m still not at 100% mobility yet, and writing really made it ache. So I apologize for my lack of correspondence. I’ve missed writing you all, and hope you’ll drop me a line. In about 6 months I’ll be out of the Bureau of Prison’s custody and on to probation. But the worst of it is over. In the meantime, please support
Jake ConroyReceive updates via email: Subscribe here.