Although he’s incarcerated in an American prison far from his family and friends, Marc Emery is in good spirits, according to a B.C. MLA who visited him this month.
“He didn’t appear too despondent,” said Delta North NDP MLA Guy Gentner. “He has a pretty positive attitude.”
Gentner was visiting family for the holidays in Gainesville, Fla., and decided to go see Emery on Jan. 2 at the D. Ray James Correctional Facility in Folkston, Ga., one state over.
Emery is serving a five-year sentence in the U.S. for selling pot seeds through the mail.
Two things interested Gentner about the trip: seeing Emery and getting an inside look at a private-run American prison.
D. Ray James is a low-security federal prison which holds mostly non-U.S. citizens. The jail is privately operated by the GEO Group, which has a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
“I was very interested to see what a private-operated prison is all about,” Gentner said. “It’s a very different, interesting situation down there.”
Before he could visit Emery, Gentner had to apply a week in advance.
When he arrived at the low-security prison with Emery’s wife, Jodie, Gentner said he was escorted through a fenced courtyard, through a multitude of locked doors and into a cafeteria-like room for visitation.
Gentner said that when Emery was brought into the room he was wearing tan-coloured, pyjama-type garb. Emery was greeted with hugs and kisses from his wife.
Gentner said he was able to visit with Emery for about four hours, during which they talked about many subjects.
“Marc Emery is a pretty intelligent guy and he’s full of stories,” Gentner said. “I was interested to see where he’s at.”
According to Emery, he was removed from his job in the prison library, where he was making 12 cents an hour.
“I think he was demoted because he was too active bringing in books,” Gentner said. “He’s an activist inside and outside the penitentiary. It’s in the DNA, I guess.”
Emery has since been allowed to resume his work in the library.
Gentner said they also talked about what inspires Emery, including his possible transfer from the U.S. prison to Canada.
If all goes well for him, Emery could be in a Canadian prison by summer and released on parole by 2012.
“He seems very confident in that aspect,” Gentner said, adding that Emery’s attitude could be part of his activist personality.
“[Activists] have a vision and a very positive outlook, a sense of purpose. I think that’s what’s driving him and other people like him.”
As is to be expected, part of their conversation was devoted to marijuana and the drug’s future in Canada.
“That was an interesting discussion. I don’t always agree with him but he makes a pretty good case. It was kind of enlightening for me,” Gentner said.
Gentner said the visit helped put Emery’s situation in perspective for him.
“Marc Emery is a prominent political figure. In many ways I think he’s a political prisoner,” Gentner said. “I was pleased that I went down and talked to him.
– Article from The Province.