By JEFF MACKLER
Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart, who spent over 30 years defending the poor and oppressed, is confined to a prison cell at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell at Fort Worth, Texas. She has served three years of a 10-year sentence on frame-up charges concerning help she gave to her client, the blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Lynne’s family and friends have been pleading with federal authorities to grant her “compassionate release” in order to gain proper medical care for her stage-four cancer.
The author, Jeff Mackler, is West Coast Coordinator of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee.
Federal probation officers in New York visited members of Lynne Stewart’s family on May 3 to ascertain whether they could provide adequate Brooklyn, N.Y., facilities for Lynne to live and be cared for.
While we must use extreme caution in predicting an immediate and positive outcome from this fact, we can state that government procedures with regard to granting the compassionate release that tens of thousands around the world have demanded include recommendations or administrative procedures from the Bureau of Prisons to the presiding judge in Lynne’s case.
This is Federal District Court Judge John Koeltl, who, it appears, has the authority to direct federal probation officers to investigate whether a suitable facility for Lynne’s care would be available if Lynne were to be transferred to her desired medical facility—in this case, the world-renowned Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Lynne e-mailed me on May 2 to state that her second chemotherapy treatment was only partially successful in reducing her metastasized breast cancer in the area of her lymph nodes and sternum. But the cancerous spots on her lugs remain unchanged. Now more than ever, first-rate medical care is critical to save Lynne’s life and continue her battle for freedom.
Lynne has cautioned us all to not let up in this battle. “Like a tree that grows in Brooklyn,” says Lynne in an allusion to the 1943 Betty Smith novel of a poor Irish-American family’s struggle to establish roots and live a decent live in early 20th century Brooklyn, “I will not be content until my feet are firmly planted in my Brooklyn home.”
It appears that the worldwide campaign for compassionate release for Lynne has taken root. But this is not the time for speculation with regard to the exigencies of America’s criminal “justice” system.
Lynne’s life still hangs by a string. She survived the horrific ordeal of two chemotherapy treatments that nearly ended it and had to be confined to a hospital isolation ward when her white blood count fell to dangerously low levels. Her cancer has been in part and temporarily restrained, but not the malignant tumors that persist in her lungs.
Demand compassionate release for Lynne now! Sign the petition to do so in one of the following manners: Go to Lynne’s website at LynneStewart.org and click on “Justice for Lynne Stewart.” Or sign the petition on the change.org site.
Stay on the alert to attend a possible New York court hearing wherein Judge Koeltl may make a final determination on Lynne’s demand for compassionate release.
Finally, send your generous donation payable to the Lynne Stewart Organization, and mail it to 1070 Dean Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.
Photo by Tony Savino / Socialist Action: Civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart walks to Federal Court in lower Manhattan for her sentencing hearing flanked by supporters and her husband, activist Ralph Poynter, in cap on right. The 66-year-old attorney was convicted on a terrorism conspiracy charge after releasing a statement by Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian sheik sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted in plots to blow up five New York landmarks. Stewart received a sentence of 28 months, later raised to 10 years.