Antiwar activist Sister Carol Gilbert returned home from prison this week after serving a 33-month sentence for a Plowshares disarmament action. During her time behind bars, she became friends with a high-profile prisoner at Alderson Federal Prison—Martha Stewart. In an interview on Democracy Now!, Gilbert says, "Martha [Stewart] is totally against the war in Iraq, there is no question about it...we need to understand that Martha is still under house arrest right now, and so, she still is very limited by what she is allowed to do and not do by this government.." [includes rush transcript]
Sister Carol Gilbert has been released from prison after serving a 33-month sentence in a federal prison. She was jailed along with two other Dominican sisters — Sister Ardeth Platte and Sister Jackie Hudson. They were arrested for destroying government property during a Plowshares action at the N-8 Minuteman silo in Colorado.
- Carol Gilbert
AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up this week and today’s show, we thought we would go down to Baltimore to your home, Frida, where you were just a few days ago, to Jonah House for the return home of Sister Carol Gilbert, one of three women, one of three nuns who several years ago hammered on warheads in Colorado, protesting the invasion of Iraq, were sentenced to a number of years in prison. She has just come out of prison now, and joins us on the phone from your home, Carol Gilbert, and Frida Berrigan’s home. Welcome to Democracy Now!
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. We played a clip when you came out of jail on Monday, but wanted to ask about the controversy around Jonah House and the questions that were raised about you being allowed to return to your home after you served out your prison sentence.
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: That’s correct, Amy. I understand I have two probation officers, one in Maryland and one in Colorado. The problem with Maryland is that they did not want me to return to Jonah House and be living with felons. And there’s the question of restitution. And it’s clear that the war making continues, and I will not pay any money, any kind of restitution, and so therefore, my travel, it appears, at least for the next three years, could be that I cannot travel outside the State of Maryland. We have done alternative restitution, in that we have collected in our names over $120,000 to all kinds of wonderful charitable organizations and social justice organizations, and each of us has made our own contribution to the work of the prison, in the sense that I made over 25 pairs of mittens and sweaters in that for the poor of Alderson. Whether or not the judge will accept that remains to be seen.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain briefly what it is you did?
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: On the morning of October 6, 2002, the three of us entered a Minuteman three missile silo in northern Colorado to inspect, expose and symbolically disarm this weapon. We were trying to prevent the war in Iraq and felt that under international law, we had a responsibility to try to draw attention and to show the world that these are our weapons of mass destruction and for that the government chose to charge us with felonies similar to a sabotage charge.
AMY GOODMAN: You had a well-known inmate with you at Alderson, Martha Stewart. Did you come to know her?
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: I did come to know Martha very well, and I think she totally understands now the injustice of the system and hopefully will continue to speak out and work to see that the system really needs to collapse. We’re not even sure it can be reformed at this point.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And your feeling, having spent that time in jail, protesting the war, to find that it’s still going on, it’s still — it’s still, the resistance is stronger than ever, and the determination of President Bush to continue prosecuting this war seems to be stronger than ever?
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: Absolutely. Just, in fact, what I would say is even clearer to me is just as the war continues on the international front and the corruption of the corporations such as Halliburton, we have the same thing happening on the domestic scene, only in this country it’s the prisons and the corruption and the illegalities of Unicore, and so many things go on in the prisons. So we’ve got prisons in this country and war on the international scene, and both soldiers and prisoners are disposable people.
AMY GOODMAN: And on the issue of Martha Stewart, since she could have such tremendous impact if she spoke out around prison conditions, did she express an opinion on the occupation in Iraq?
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: Martha is totally against the war in Iraq. There’s no question about it. And I think we need to understand that Martha is still under house arrest right now, and so, she still is very limited by what she is allowed to do and not do by this government.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for joining us, Sister Carol Gilbert.
SISTER CAROL GILBERT: Thank you so much, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Speaking to us from her home in Jonah House, and Frida Berrigan of World Policy Institute.