You might have noticed that we’ve been quiet on Marie Mason’s situation since she has entered the federal prison system. Mostly she has been trying to adjust to life at Waseca and get her basic needs met. The good news is that she was initially assigned a job in the kitchen, but was able to be transferred to a job as a guitar instructor. She recently played a holiday gig inside the prison with her new group!
Unfortunately, Marie Mason’s other needs are not being met. Mail delivery has continuously been disrupted. Contact with her appeal lawyer was halted at one point, and he had to intervene to re-establish it. Contact with other lawyers is uncertain. Certain supporters were barred from contacting her, but then allowed to – only to find their communications were still censored or parts of them “lost”. Mason’s attempts to receive instruction in her chosen spiritual path also seems to be running into problems, and outside organizations have had to be informed regarding the situation.
The worst is her food situation; Mason is vegan, but has been unable to consistently receive vegan meals. She has been buying additional food from the commissary, but this too has caused a problem. There was too much money in her commissary account and therefore a monthly amount has been garnished (since Mason has to pay restitution as part of her plea bargain). This has created a vicious cycle: the prison system is refusing to provide her with vegan food, forcing her to buy food from the commissary; but because there is money in her commissary account to buy the food, they are punishing her for it. Mason is looking at options to get the prison to serve her vegan food. She is vegan partly for medical reasons, and her inability to receive a vegan diet is causing her significant health problems.
At this juncture, she wants supporters to be aware of the situation, but NOT to take any action. We also ask that supporters do NOT place money directly in her commissary account, but rather provide any funds directly to her family. (Donation information is available here.)
Supporters should be aware that the prison has notified Mason that she will not be allowed to use the new email system they are installing (although other Green Scare prisoners can). Additionally that they are implementing a list of 100 people that she can write to; all of these people must be authorized ahead of time. This can potentially limit contact with supporters, making events such as letter-writing nights impossible. We are not sure if this is a system-wide change or one that is more limited; we post updates on this situation as they become available. However, as of this time (October 19, 2009), anyone can still write Mason, so if you’ve been thinking about doing so, right now is the time. [Mason later clarified that the 100 person list only limits who SHE can write to; anyone is free to write her – but note that unless you are on her authorized list, she will not be able to write you back.]
Lastly, Mason’s appeal is still underway, and details will be posted as they become available.