Letter from Irwin County Jail Print

The following letter was written by Nancy Smith, 78, from the Irwin County Jail where she is serving out the beginning of a 6-month sentence for crossing the line at Ft. Benning.  Nancy recently successfully applied for and obtained indigent status in the jail, which only allows for her to send out three letters per week paid for by the jail.  She is very grateful for your many letters of support.

Irwin County Detention Center
Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dear SOA Watchers,

…on the 5th day the mail arrived! And, oh my it was good. So many people wrote wonderful words of support and encouragement. I was just astounded by the wealth that just fell on me!

I’m in a dorm of 32 women, 4 to a room, with double-bunk beds. The facility here at Ocilla (GA) is clean, modern, warm (most of the time) with lots of heavy doors that bang shut throughout 24 hours. Food is inexcusably bad, but it comes regularly 3 times a day and a vegetarian like myself can usually trade the (what passes for) meat for (what passes for) vegetables.

The next stop will be a transfer to a federal prison. Or not. Some of the women have been here for over a year and expect they might just serve their full sentence here. Or not. And it’s the not knowing that keeps everyone on edge. The stories are heart breaking to hear; many get in trouble through drugs, pills or because their boyfriends committed an offense. Many have small children at home, no financial resources, no job skills, no support system, no education, and some face very long sentences. Hold them in your heart; light a candle for them. They need you very badly.

There is a common room for the women in this unit, metal tables with attached benches, a TV set and microwave. The ceiling is very high and gives the feeling that we’re underground. There are three space openings leading up to small skylights. That’s our only glimpse of what’s outside. I saw a small beam of sunlight this morning.

I talk about SOA all the time. Because I’m such an oddity here, many want to know what I did to get here and I tell them. They are horrified of course, when they hear what SOA graduates have done and we have some good conversations about governments and abuse of power.

And we also joke a lot, sitting around laughing, passing the time. You may be interested to know that I’m developing a southern accent. Not good enough to pass, but I’m working on it. One of my roommates says if I let my hair grow out a bit, she will braid it for me (corn rows?)

Great warm hugs to you all, wherever you are.


You can write to Nancy at:

OCILLA, GA 31774

Write to the other Prisoners of Conscience; Louis, David and Chris! (please note David's new address!)