Feds Single Out IRS Tax Critic for Harsh Treatment
By Mark Anderson
Sherry Peel Jackson, the former IRS agent who ended up in federal prison in early 2008 over challenging the legitimacy of the federal income tax, is inching toward her scheduled official release date of Aug. 8, 2011. But it’s hard for her husband to shake the impression that prison authorities are making her suffer before she is released—even though it was a little less than a year ago that she became ill with a hyperactive thyroid, increased heart rate and chest pains.
Colin Jackson told AMERICAN FREE PRESS in an exclusive interview that she has been in solitary confinement for over five months straight—an unheard-of amount of time when hardened criminals with serious offenses typically get no more than 90 days in solitary.
But Mr. Jackson sees a ray of light in this troubling situation, even while he is disturbed that someone like Sherry—a certified public accountant and mother of two with no prior record, in prison over an alleged white-collar crime—would be given that much time in the bleak, claustrophobic confinements of such a cell.
“She has been granted an evidentiary hearing that is going to be coming up next month,” Mr. Jackson said on May 8, during this writer’s weekly radio show on the Republic Broadcasting Network. He also spoke to AFP off the air.
“From what I understand . . . evidentiary hearings are very rarely granted. Obviously the judge found that there is enough evidence . . . or points of interest, that Sherry needed to be heard again,” Mr. Jackson said.
While he is not yet at liberty to get into details, the hearing will “[focus] on some of things that should have been presented and weren’t. If this evidentiary hearing goes in our favor she could be home as early as this summer.”
Thus, the evidentiary hearing would provide a way for presenting items that were never explored in court.
On Feb. 14, 2008, Mrs. Jackson was imprisoned after being found guilty in the Atlanta, Ga. federal court of “willful failure to file” federal income taxes. Since it appears she was convicted and imprisoned for her beliefs (and acting on them), many supporters see her as a political prisoner—something that many Americans assume is impossible in America, except for enemy combatants in military custody.
When AFP last spoke with Mr. Jackson in early January, he was shocked his wife had recently been placed in solitary. He can hardly believe she is still there after all this time.
“The reason she is in solitary confinement is, what I believe, in retaliation for the media attention the prison system got and that the representative [local congressman] got when she was ill,” Mr. Jackson also said. The congressman is Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).
“The prison system was operating much too slowly to give her medical attention, and she wrote a letter to Johnson letting him know that she was . . . severely ill and the prison system was not doing enough to help her physically,” Mr. Jackson said, adding that his wife sent a copy of the same letter to him, and he sent copies to several supporters and friends.
“Well, it went viral and people literally from all over the world began to call, write—they tied up our congressman’s phone line for two or three days. So I imagine the same thing happened to the prison system.
Shortly thereafter she was transferred to a solitary holding unit in Tallahassee, Fla. for what they say—and I have the letter from the prison system—for what they say is for her ‘protection.’ ”
This writer speculated in conversations with Mr. Jackson that perhaps prison authorities, in some form of twisted logic, wanted to make it seem like a strong showing of support would only make things worse for Sherry; thus they moved her from the Coleman, Fla. federal prison to the Federal Correction Institution in Tallahassee, Fla. because the Coleman facility does not have a solitary confinement cell and the other prison does.
“If these were her supporters writing and calling, what does she need to be protected from? The only people who have done her any harm in the past three years was our government,” said Mr. Jackson, who feels that an aide to Rep. Johnson “tried to placate the situation,” claiming the congressman’s office lacked the authority to do anything to help.
Mr. Jackson’s understanding is that one letter the prison received stated something to the effect of “we’ll be watching you,” though not necessarily those exact words. The prison system was looking into the letter, but now the FBI is investigating it. Even so, the prison is still accepting mail, though it’s very closely screened. However, Sherry’s subscription to AFP was denied by the prison, so she no longer receives this newspaper, Mr. Jackson said.
Those who want to write to the prison are asked to be brief, polite and to the point regarding Sherry’s treatment and to urge for her expedited release after the evidentiary hearing. The address is still: Sherry Peel Jackson, FCI Tallahassee [inmate number 59085-019], 501 Capitol Circle, Tallahassee, Fla. 32301. Those who prefer to contact Mr. Jackson to share thoughts or ask that their letter be forwarded to Tallahassee can write to him at this address: 1560 Fieldgreen Overlook, Stone Mountain, Ga. 30088.
Another American in prison, mainly for acting on her beliefs about the income tax, Elaine Brown, is in Federal Medical Center/Carswell prison, located adjacent to a naval air base by that name, just outside Fort Worth,
Texas. A persistent attempt by this writer to visit her in prison in early February was denied by the Bureau of Prisons office in D.C., which claimed AFP did not meet its “definition of news media.”
Mrs. Brown is a former dentist who, with her husband Ed, was arrested for income tax and weapons charges. She was sentenced to a brutal 35 years in prison—a life sentence at her age of 68. The Browns were arrested in 2007 by U.S. marshals at their rural New Hampshire home after agents posing as allies infiltrated their residence.
The Bureau of Prisons lists an “Ed Brown” in the Talladega, Ala. federal prison with a 2017 projected release. Rumors circulated that he was in the Marion, Ill. pen, but a Marion spokesman earlier this year told AFP no one by that name is there.
Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as a corresponding editor for American Free Press. Together he and his wife Angie provide many photographs of the events they cover for AFP. Mark welcomes your comments and inputs as well as story leads. Email him at at email@example.com.
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(Issue # 21, May 26, 2010)