Jeff “Free” Luers was released from prison early today after a Lane County Circuit Court Judge signed a supplemental judgment granting him an additional 30 percent reduction in his total incarceration time. In 2001, Luers was sentenced to 22 years, 8 months in prison for burning three SUVs in the name of defending the environment. In 2007, an appeals court reversed and remanded the decision. And in 2008, he sentenced was reduced to 10 years. In short, this has been a very, very long time coming.
When someone is released from prison, they have to start over. They must immediately secure housing, employment and essential things that we all take for granted, like shoes and bed sheets. It’s important that political prisoners receive support from the activist community to make this difficult, overwhelming transition as easy as possible. You can donate to Jeff Luers support committee, or purchase something from his wishlist.
As I write this, it is surreal for me to see Luers, a (former) political prisoner, on the REI gift registry. It makes perfect sense, of course: for an environmentalist locked up for 9 years, the first thing he wants to do is experience the natural world. It’s just so bizarre to think that while people are using the same registry for weddings or birthdays or college graduations, activists are using it to welcome home Luers, who has been labeled an “eco-terrorist,” from prison. We live in such indescribably strange times.
UPDATE: Six hours after being released, Luers was taken back into custody. According to the Civil Liberties Defense Center, it was an error by the Department of Corrections, not Luers. That’s all I have right now. Unbelievable. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to step outside the prison walls, feel the sunshine and take photos with friends, and then be forced to leave it all once again.