The following was letter was written from the Chemung County Jail in Elmira, New York where Steingraber is serving a fifteen day sentence for blockading a gas compression rig last month owned by the Inergy gas company near her home in the Finger Lakes region of the state:
This morning – I have no idea what time this morning, as there are no clocks in jail, and the florescent lights are on all night long – I heard the familiar chirping of English sparrows and the liquid notes of a cardinal. And there seemed to be another bird too – one who sang a burbling tune. Not a robin–wren? The buzzing, banging, clanking of jail and the growled announcements of guards on their two-way radios – which also go on all night – drowned it out. But the world, I knew, was out there somewhere.
The best way to deal with jail is to exude patience, and wrap it around a core of resolve and surrender. According to New York state law, all inmates upon arrival are isolated from the general population until they are tested for tuberculosis and that test comes back negative. Typically, that takes three days.
Isolation means you are locked inside your cell with no access to the phone (the phone for cell block D happens to be located, tantalizingly, four feet from my bars - just out of reach); no access to books (the two books I have in my cell, lent to me by an empathetic inmate, are the Bible and Nora Roberts’ Carolina Moon, which is a 470-page paperback whose opening sentence is, “She woke in the body of a dead friend.”); and, of course, no access to wi fi, cell phones, e-mail or the internet.
TVNL Comment: MUST SEE: Bill Moyer's interview with Sandra Steingraber : The Toxic Assault on Our Children. Wake up America!