Our friends Carling Sothoron and Heather Doyle were in court yesterday for their awesome crane sit action in Calvert County, protesting Dominion Cove Point’s plans to build a fracked gas export terminal.
Carling and Heather’s cases were heard by a visiting judge from Kent County. He doubled their days from the rest of the arrestees’ because they both had priors for similar actions.
Carling’s sentence was three years of probation, 40 days in jail (suspended), a $200 fine and court costs. The fine was reduced from $500 to account for the forfeiture of her climbing equipment during the arrest.
Heather was given the same sentence, but chose to do jail time. Therefore, her fines and costs were dropped. She was given one day credit for time served during her arrest.
We are disappointed but not surprised by the extent of these sentences. They are completely out of proportion to the charges of trespassing to which Carling and Heather pleaded guilty. However, these penalties reflect a pattern of excessive punishment for peaceful protests undertaken as a last resort in Calvert County, Maryland.
More broadly, we want to use this opportunity to draw attention to the fact that police, courts and jails are used to sustain a fundamentally unjust system. They subject some people to harsher discipline than others due to their backgrounds or personal characteristics. Heather chose to serve her time in jail so that she will be better able to support and advocate for people in jails and prisons.