The Price You Pay for Speaking Truth in America: Jeremy Hammond’s Life in Prison

ReAnna Ruiz | ANTIMEDIA

The tragic story of an American hero: Jeremy Hammond.

At just 30 years old, Jeremy Hammond has lived a very prolific life as an activist. He is a passionate advocate for justice and peace and has spent much of his adult life selflessly helping to restore the shattered world in which we live. His main goal has been to expose government corruption, and he has encouraged others to stand up against injustices, as well. His efforts throughout the years have been both brave and heroic.

Between July and August of 2004, Jeremy was a panel speaker at DEFCON 12 and discussed Electronic Civil Disobedience and the Republican National Convention. He spoke to a very large crowd of people and his words were captivating. He certainly made an impression on audience members in attendance that evening.

Another monumental moment for Jeremy came in the fall of 2009. On September 29, several people took to the streets of Chicago to protest against the city’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic games. Later in the evening, several protesters, including Jeremy, gathered in front of the Picasso statue at Daley Plaza. They misplaced pieces of a commemorative wreath that was to be adorned on the statue in honor of the upcoming games. Because of the damage caused to the scattered laurel, they were targeted for their actions. During the chaos, Jeremy was unfortunately singled out when law enforcement arrived on the scene and a scuffle ensued. By night’s end, Jeremy and five other protesters had been arrested.

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Perhaps the most infamous of Jeremy’s mischievous endeavors as an activist was the Stratfor hack. It had long been suspected that a third party security agency hired by the U.S. government, Strategic Forecasting Inc., was conducting illegal operations under the direction of the CIA. Jeremy’s main objective was to hack into the Stratfor databases to retrieve documentation that proved illegal activity.

Upon review of the material, it became abundantly clear that Stratfor was, in fact, conducting invasive surveillance on unknowing individuals who were not guilty of any criminal activity. Additionally, several incriminating emails were discovered that detailed sinister plots and corrupt, off-the-record negotiations between border and government officials to the tune of greed and murder. These horrifying revelations, and the onslaught of illegal activity performed by Stratfor, should have been investigated further after they were exposed. The fact that they weren’t supports the notion that the government could care less that Stratfor was actively partaking in criminal activity and conducting illegal surveillance on innocent Americans. Instead, the government focused solely on capturing the individual who administered the hack, as well as anyone else involved.

Barrett Brown, a writer and journalist who worked closely with Jeremy during this time, did an exceptional job reporting on the findings. Shockingly, both Jeremy and Barrett received lengthy fines and prison sentences for their involvement in exposing Stratfor’s illegal operations. It is because of this unfortunate incident that Jeremy is currently incarcerated.

Federal prison is not only Jeremy’s reality, but Barrett’s, as well. Jeremy always acknowledges this and shows a tremendous amount of respect for Barrett in that regard.

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Arrested 3/5/12 in Chicago, IL. November 2013, Honorable Loretta A. Preska sentenced Jeremy Hammond to ten years in federal prison. He is currently serving his time at Manchester Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky. His relative date of release is March 2022.

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Arrested 9/12/12 in Dallas, TX. February 2015, Honorable Sam A. Lindsay sentenced Barrett Brown to 5 years in federal prison. He is currently serving time at Forth Worth Federal Correctional Institution in Texas. His relative date of release is September 2017.

For many reasons, Jeremy does not fit the stereotypical description of a prisoner. However, he has managed to adapt to the prison environment at Manchester. Jeremy is a well-respected individual in the quarters where inmates and inner circles gather, also known as “the yard.” It is very clear that other inmates admire him and that he has a good reputation and relationship with many of them.

Jeremy enjoys being active and has developed several hobbies and interests during his time in prison. His indoor activities of choice are chess and spades, and when the weather is nice, he participates in organized softball games outdoors.

Exercising has become his favorite past-time of prison life. Although he has always been quite tall and slender, since his incarceration, he has spent a great deal of his time working out in the weight pile and has bulked up as a result. Quite often, the weight pile is closed due to inclement weather, which is an annoyance and frustration for him. It’s located outside, and when he is unable to access it, he must revert to working out in his cell.

Jeremy is a very giving individual and he is always willing to lend a helping hand to other inmates who are struggling with their studies. He has tutored several inmates who are taking classes for their GED. Sadly, there are restrictions on his educational opportunities as he is not permitted in the prison library, which seems to be a deliberate tactic to hinder his ability to learn. However, he recently took a carpentry class and was very pleased with the projects he completed, as he doesn’t have any prior experience in that field. He was particularly proud of the work he accomplished.

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Prisoners have minimal access to television programming. The news broadcast at Manchester is mainstream media and the coverage is corrupt and lackluster. This is precisely why Jeremy frequently asks his friends and supporters for books and alternative media print-outs, as it helps to keep him stay well-informed and up to date with current events.

Inmates are usually given a job or temporary duty to adhere to. Jeremy does not like his current job responsibilities and feels they are a frivolous waste of time. Typically, he is assigned to laundry services or vocational training. He recently refused a job offer making flag boxes and plaques for retired officers. When he declined the job, he was quickly shafted to petty and pointless manual labor.

Jeremy is no stranger to mischief and has gotten into trouble several times for breaking prison rules and regulations.

His visitation rights were revoked for almost two years. This penalty was part of the punishment he endured after testing positive for marijuana while he was incarcerated in NYC, shortly after his sentencing in 2013. It was because of this incident that he was transferred to Manchester FCI in Kentucky.

Most recently, he was caught with alcohol in the beginning of July, which landed him a two-month stint in Manchester’s Segregated Housing Unit (SHU), and also tacked on an additional 41 days to his already excessive ten year prison sentence. Phone and email privileges were also taken away during that time, but were reinstated once he was released from SHU in the middle of September.

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Jeremy has expressed on many occasions that medical treatment in Manchester is incredibly scarce. Negligence runs rampant, and many inmates, including Jeremy, are left to suffer through illness and injury.

Manchester offers free dental, but there is a lengthy waiting list. Jeremy applied nearly 2 years ago and he has never heard back from the administration. He has cavities that need to be filled and suspects he has developed more since his incarceration due to the lack of dental treatment he has received.

Jeremy had to wait nearly his entire time in prison thus far before he was finally able to see an optometrist. He just received eye glasses eight months ago.

At one point, he acquired a very significant injury to his finger and was not given proper medical attention. His finger healed improperly as a result of the medical neglect.

Recently, he was terribly ill at the end of June. He was vomiting profusely and was exhibiting food-poisoning and flu-like symptoms. However, he never received any medical attention, which caused severe weight loss and dehydration over the course of several days.

Shortly after being released from SHU in September, he injured his foot quite badly. When he reported the injury to administration and medical staff, he was told to “Walk it off.”

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One of the obstacles Jeremy continues to face in Manchester is continued complications with visitation. He was unable to have visitors for more than a year, as those privileges were revoked during the earlier years of his incarceration. At that point, he was strictly permitted to closed family visits only. He recently had his general visitation rights reinstated, so he is very eager to have visitors again. However, he hasn’t had much luck.

Initially, inmates must send their desired visitor an application to be completed. Once the form is completed, it must be sent directly to the inmate’s counselor to determine approval or rejection.

The application in and of itself is highly suspicious, as it requires the applicant to divulge certain information that seems irrelevant. Additionally, many of the inquiries are far too vague to be considered legitimate factors when determining visitor eligibility.

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Applications are constantly rejected by the prison administration at Manchester. Approval is rare and reserved only under very special circumstances. This is because there is a policy statement that prohibits visits from individuals who did not know the inmate prior to incarceration. However, there have been applicants that knew Jeremy prior to his incarceration whose applications are still rejected. It would be interesting to find out why this is occurring, but the answer remains unclear as the policy does not provide an explanation for that — and neither has the administration. Jeremy believes this is a deliberate attempt to prevent him from seeing certain people, especially since the rejections have been selective.

The warden is the only individual with the authority to overrule a rejected application. Unfortunately, he has not made any exceptions in this regard, and Jeremy believes it is highly unlikely the administration will do him any favors.

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Although Jeremy does a fine job of keeping himself busy with different activities, there’s one thing he truly loves that he doesn’t always get to enjoy in prison: music. Many are not even aware that he loves music as much as he does.

In federal prison, inmates have access to MP3s for purchase, however, Jeremy is currently incarcerated at Manchester, which is a federal prison located in the state of Kentucky. The genre of music that is generally available, country music, is not one Jeremy enjoys.

He grew up on classic rock, which he still enjoys, but his favorite types of music generally tend to be punk, ska, reggae, and rap. In particular, he enjoys bands like Operation Ivy and Bad Brains. He fondly recalls the days when he used to incessantly play their albums on cassette. It also comes as no surprise that Jeremy likes Manu Chao’s music, as well. He even has print-outs of lyrics from the Clandestino album, which he also uses as a tool to learn Spanish.

Jeremy loves a good show, concert, or festival. He used to attend Hempfest and PeaceFest in Chicago regularly, and his band even played there one year. He has always wanted to go to Burning Man or a Rainbow Gathering — something he hopes to do one day as he is a fan of big parties, gatherings, and raves. However, when it comes to shows, he appreciates the modesty of watching unknown artists and bands perform in smaller venues, as well.

Jeremy is also a musician and played bass in a ska band, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, with his twin brother, Jason.

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To be sure, Jeremy holds opinions on certain geopolitical issues. He has also been very vocal about the groups he supports and his opinion of the “movement.”

He thinks it’s incredibly sad that the U.S. is actively engaging in more war across the globe. His hope is that the American people will focus their efforts on exposing the corrupt infrastructure of the U.S. military. Moreover, he is vehemently opposed to U.S. military actions in Iraq and elsewhere.

He was particularly impassioned while reading The Rejova Revolution a few months ago, as he thought it was amazing that the Kurds independently defended themselves from ISIS in order to start establishing a revolutionary society. This sort of reading material very much entices him.

He is a passionate supporter of cannabis and hopes that by the time he is out of prison, it is legalized nationwide. He is proud that medical marijuana is legal in his home state of Illinois, however, he finds the process to obtain manufacturing and selling permits to be an arduous hassle.

He has always shown a tremendous amount of support for the LGBT community and was very pleased when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Of course, the constant hate and homophobia displayed by other inmates at Manchester sickens him deeply.

Lastly, he still identifies with the Anonymous ideology and continues to show love, support, and dedication to the collective.

Jeremy is incredibly proud of the efforts put forth in the movement. He attributes the success of these efforts to camaraderie and would like to keep the momentum going. Clearly, he has a strong belief in unity among the people and believes we can accomplish great things if we continue on that path.

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“It’s about uniting.”

In the year 2020, Jeremy will be released to a halfway house to complete the rest of his sentence. He truly appreciates the many friends, family, and supporters he has in his corner, so please continue to advocate for him and make every effort to support all of his pages.

Jeremy has cited the following as his official support pages: www.freejeremy.net (Website), @freejeremynet (Twitter), www.facebook.com/freejeremy.net (Facebook).

The entire Anti-Media family sends Jeremy and his family much love and continued support. #FreeJeremyHammond

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This article (The Price You Pay for Speaking Truth in America: Jeremy Hammond’s Life in Prison) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to ReAnna Ruiz and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Image credit: FreeAnons. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

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