Superintendent Van Wickler on Sam and Releasing Prisoners

Van WicklerThis morning I had a nice conversation with Superintendent (and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speaker) Rick Van Wickler of the Cheshire County Jail. According to him, Sam is eating but apparently wasn’t until just recently, and that he is still not cooperating so therefore has not been classified. That means he can’t be in population, therefore he is likely in solitary confinement until he decides to submit to some of their questions and a TB test.

I asked Rick what level of control he has over releasing inmates and he explained that he answers to the judges with one exception. If an inmate has been sentenced and has served 2/3 of the sentence, the superintendent has the ability to release them anytime after that point. For those with political inclinations, this is a state statute apparently so it could be changed to allow superintendents to release any prisoner as early as they deem appropriate. As long as this inhumane system exists, that change would allow for more compassion and give the jail superintendents a nice check against bad judges. Imagine someone like Van Wickler just cutting loose all peaceful inmates in on drug charges, or other peaceful inmates like Sam. Of course, at this stage Sam hasn’t been sentenced or arraigned, so Van Wickler has no control over Sam’s release at all. If he were to release Sam anyway, he’d be charged with contempt of court and likely imprisoned in his own facility. As nice as it would be to see more bureaucrats buck the system that provides them with a paycheck, it’s not too probable that will occur. Mr. Van Wickler, like many government bureaucrats, is a man who has chosen allegiance with a system that he doesn’t fully agree with. It’s a system that is so dangerous and intimidating that he dares not risk defying it beyond speaking out against it. For his courage to speak out against its depredations and his dedication to running his inherently inhumane facility in the most compassionate way possible within the confines of that system, he should be appreciated. For his fear of retribution for doing the right thing, he should be forgiven. We have all been afraid.

This knowledge about prisoner release leaves us with a few options:

  • Persuade judge Burke to do the right thing and stop hearing cases with no victim and allow cameras in his court. I have a call in to the court in an attempt to get a lunch date with him to discuss such matters. Perhaps your phone calls to the court can help in this.
  • Encourage the NHLA to work in the system on giving jail superintendents more ability to release inmates. I find working in the system repulsive, but this would be a very positive change and one I’d be willing to contribute financially toward.
  • More disobedience and noncooperation. This one is inevitable as more people get fed up with this oppression, move to Keene, and join the peaceful evolution.

What am I missing? Please post your comments.

SamSAM UPDATE: Ivy is attempting to meet with Sam and get a signature from him so she can represent him at Keene District Court. It’s my understanding she is also working to file a writ of habeas corpus for Sam. Get the latest on Sam on this Free Keene forum thread.

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13 Comments

  1. Can someone post the text of this "refusal to process" ordinance? I don't understand how such a code could be Constitutional. (Not that anyone follows the Constitution.)

  2. ARTICLE IV. IDENTIFICATION OF PERSONS ARRESTED

    Sec. 66-91. Refusal to be fingerprinted and photographed.

    Refusal by any person to obey a lawful order of a police officer to be fingerprinted and photographed shall be deemed a violation of this Code.

    (Code 1970, § 1609.0)

    Secs. 66-92–66-120. Reserved.

  3. Here we go again — The City of Keene exceeding its statutory authority.

    It's telling that no statutory authority (RSA) is cited.

    Chapter 594 ARRESTS IN CRIMINAL CASES is the applicable law governing arrests, not local ordinances.

  4. Well this is good to hear. Thanks for the update, Ian.

  5. I think it would be a great idea to try to reach an understanding with the judge about cameras in the courtroom. But I can't see it as a face-face with Ian, over lunch or otherwise. Not with the history the two men have between them at this point.

    Ideally there would be a mediator to talk separately to the two sides and carry a message back and forth, somebody respected by all. I don't know who that would be in Keene. I know who I would ask in my town.

    As for asking the judge to "stop hearing cases with no victim", that is a complete non-starter. Such a request is tantamount to asking him to resign, as a judge must hear all the cases assigned to him or lose his job. Limit your requests to something he could actually do, like allow cameras in his courtroom.

  6. It sure is great to see an activist stick to his guns through the tough stuff. This is the kind of stuff that really makes a difference. Surely some guards will question why this man is so dedicated. Likely Sam has been preparing his mind for just this, After all he does have a better then average understanding of the legal system.

    Thank you again for your dedication and sacrifice..

  7. The funny thing is, Sam is almost certainly not refusing to be fingerprinted or photographed. Neither, I think, requires his cooperation.

  8. I think for Sam, this is his baptism by fire. It will only serve to strengthen his resolve. One of the greatest fears is the fear of the unknown. In the future, he will have a better understanding of what to expect from these people, the lengths they will go to and the brutality they are willing mete out and he will be ready for it.

    <cite>“I am not a number, I am a free man!” </cite>

  9. If you google "refusing to process" … there is no case anywhere in the world using this rationale. The judge in this case has exceeded his authority and it will come back to haunt him. I would, however, ask that Sam please go ahead and eat.

  10. This is October 2, 2009. Is Sam out of jail yet? What happened, did he get fined, apology?

Care to comment?