Incarceration Nation

A Visit with Lynne Stewart

By Carole Seligman

I had the honor of visiting with Lynne Stewart, in Federal Medical Center (federal prison), Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas over the weekend of February 22-24.

Lynne explained her petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari, which is not an appeal, but an attempt to convince the Supremes that the issues raised in the extension of Lynne’s sentence from 28 months to ten years are issues that will have broad effects on others. This certainly is true. All the issues in Lynne’s case go to the basic democratic rights to have legal representation when charged with a crime. (You can read the certiorari petition on the website:

Lynne also reviewed her medical situation. For the first time I learned that she now has stage 4 lung cancer (which is what the breast cancer has metastasized into). She had just had a port inserted into her chest when I saw her. She was sore and she was taking care not to hug too hard. Tuesday, she started the chemo therapy, where the drugs are administered to her through the port. This is instead of through an IV.

Lynne explained that she is getting treatment, and she thinks highly of the oncologist who is treating her. What is very, very wrong about the treatment of serious medical issues at Carswell is the lack of any kind of collaboration between the outside doctors with each other and the prison medical staff. They are not in touch with each other, do not collaborate, and therefore critical follow-up and treatment management are not being adequately done. This is particularly serious given Lynne’s condition and this is why Lynne needs to be returned to New York where she can receive treatment that is overseen by doctors who can collaborate and coordinate with each other.

Soon we will all be asked to participate in a campaign to win compassionate release for our dear sister. (See petition in this issue.) She has already completed more than the original sentence, before it was lengthened to ten years!

I’m making this report short, but personally, I was the lucky recipient of many stories of Lynne’s legal career, her school librarian experiences, her family history, Ralph and Lynne’s participation in the community control of schools in Harlem, N.Y. actions, her opinions about all kinds of issues, support of political prisoners, support for her sister-inmates at Carswell, and more. Lynne was very pleased to get word of the beautiful message about her that Mumia Abu-Jamal recorded at Prison Radio, February 22. (This is also posted on the Lynne Stewart website.)

She is very pleased with the river of letters and cards she gets; too many for her to respond to. Please keep them coming. They make a real difference in her treatment.

Write to Lynne Stewart at:

Lynne Stewart #53504-054

Unit 2N, Federal Medical Center, Carswell

P.O. Box 27137

Fort Worth, TX 76127

Write to Lynne Stewart Defense Committee at:

Lynne Stewart Defense Committee

1070 Dean Street

Brooklyn, New York 11216

For further information: 718-789-0558 or 917-853-9759