Patrick O’Neill’s Incarceration and Home Confinement Ends, November 19, 2021

Dear Friends of Peace,

By the time you read this my 14-month federal prison sentence will have ended. Friday, November 19 marks the final day of my incarceration. I have a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday with my new probation officer named Scott. I have no idea what he’s going to say, but my expectation is that he may not give me much trouble. The main thing is I will have to get permission to travel, and I should not hang out with other criminals, which I do most days! I have not been rehabilitated in case you were wondering.

Since my release to the halfway house August 24 I have been volunteering at A Place at the Table restaurant in Raleigh, which I plan to keep doing, but no longer every day. Founded by Maggie Kane, “Table” as it’s called for short, has “a pay what you can policy,” and serves high quality food with cloth napkins! Located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, Maggie and her band of cohorts have found a way to add great dignity to serving food to the needy. People of means who work and live in downtown Raleigh sit side by side with people who live on Raleigh’s streets, eating the same great food. I have known Maggie for close to 10 years, and I am amazed at what she has accomplished (and she’s only 30 years old!)

The Kings Bay Plowshares are in our sixth year together since we “became community.” None of us could have anticipated the onset of Covid, and the years of commitment that have been necessary to pull off this action, and “do time.”

I am deeply indebted to all of you for the Love and Caring Support my wife Mary and I and our children have received during this long journey. A large community of friends and family stepped up to give aid, prayer and assistance to Mary, and to send me words of encouragement and financial support in prison. A special thanks goes to our friend and comrade Marcia Timmel who has been helping with the special needs of our youngest daughter, Mary Evelyn, including helping with virtual schooling three days a week for the second half of Mary E’s 8th grade year and now picking her up from high school once a week or so.

I am also indebted to my “Presbyterian Connection” of clergy, Erik Johnson and Mark Davidson for all of their efforts to keep all of you informed through editing and sending out my prison journal.

Steve Dear was my brother on this journey, devoting countless hours of loving support, both as part of the KBP7 support committee and to me personally.

Special thanks to my longtime Pershing Plowshares codefendant, Paul Magno, who kept my commissary account from running dry.

All of the defendants were especially cared for by the KBP7 support committee, which has been by our side, holding regular Zoom meetings during this long haul and making sure to provide loving care to all of us and our families.

I also cannot say enough about those we call “The Gradys,” the Ithaca family of my codefendant, Clare, who loom large in this wonderful conspiracy and witness.

We also had a bevy of fantastic lawyers who devoted many hours of hard work to visit us, do research, prepare legal briefs, argue motions and give us sound and helpful legal advice. I have been blessed by having been represented by such fine people.

I have also made friends with a lot of fellow “offenders” while in two jails, prison and the halfway house. My Christmas card list will be very long next month!

I will be writing about my experiences as part of the KBP7, and about the amazing Faith Journey we have been on together. I will address the imperative of nonviolence and the need to abolish the Three “P”s — pentagon, prisons and police. My time spent in Federal Correctional Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio, was often overwhelming, and I was literally serving the shortest sentence in my cellblock. Like the pentagon, the federal Bureau of Prisons is a colossal failure, a dehumanizing system of unredemptive punishment and degradation. As one staff chaplain said: Elkton is “an evil institution,” and he was not talking about the prisoners.

Dear friend Julie Shocksnider, who lives near the prison, was my great “Prayer Partner” at Elkton, coming weekly to pray outside the prison (at a spot where I could see her from the window of my cellblock). A beautiful Grace-filled commitment.

At a time when the prospect of climate change imperils our planet, the military-industrial complex is moving full speed ahead on a path that could lead creation to doom. And worse, all of this madness has the full support of all three branches of government, and the Church! To reverse climate change we must abolish war; to abolish war we need humanity and especially People of Faith to reject violence and war-making. Now is the time for disarmament and diplomacy and for the Primacy of Love to guide our hearts and minds. Let’s Love Creation, Love the Earth and Love Each Other.

Peace and God’s Blessings,

Patrick O’Neill

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