News & Politics

What's the Hold-Up? Lynne Stewart, Imprisoned Human Rights Attorney Dying Of Lung Cancer, Is Supposed to Be Freed

The warden has signed for her compassionate release. Nonetheless, her cell stays locked.

Lynne Stewart, the fearless defense attorney with a taste for representing controversial clients, is serving a ten-year prison sentence as her lung cancer spreads. Sixty pounds slimmer and losing time, Stewart was granted compasssionate release six weeks ago, but is still not free.

Stewart was convicted of on conspiracy charges for providing material support to terrorists in 2005, but she and her supporters stress that she was simply delivering a press release to a Reuters journalist, honoring her client's1st Amendment rights. In 2010, charges of perjury led her to be re-sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

The seventy-three-year-old "people's lawyer" is suffering from stage four lung cancer, which has metastasized to her lymph nodes and shoulder. Her husband, 70-year-old activist Ralph Poynter, said in a press release, “Lynne has passed all of the legalities of compassionate release and qualifies for release as the bill was written. The prison warden at Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, has signed for her release, and so has the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles R. Samuels. Probation officers charged with inspecting Lynne’s future residence approved her housing. All that is required by the statute of compassionate release has been done. Yet Lynne is still in jail! Every day that her release is postponed makes treatment of her cancer more difficult.”
A campaign for Steawrt's Compassionate Release kicked off with thousands of petition signatures and phone calls in early March. This Monday, her supporters held a candlelight vigil at the White House, and are trying to make sure the pressure for Lynn's release stays on. They are urging supporters to sign the petition and send a letter to Mr. Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (320 First St NW, Washington, DC 25034). 

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