Since the day he arrived at Lompoc, 18 months ago, say his lawyers, family and friends, Cottrell has been harassed, threatened and taunted by the prison population and, in some cases, also by the guards and the administration. Because in the rigid world of prison, Cottrell has been labeled a terrorist.
Lompoc guards whispered the word at him as he passed. Visitors heard guards refer to him as their “very own ecoterrorist.” Cottrell later learned he had been used as an example in a training video on how to deal with terrorists in prison, “so now every prison guard in the country recognizes me as a terrorist on sight,” he wrote in a January 10 letter to the L.A. Weekly. He has been denied common privileges such as exercise, visitors and phone calls. Ultimately, he was banished to solitary confinement — the Hole, in prison parlance — like a violent thug.
And all because of one night in the summer of 2003, when Cottrell helped two friends deface and destroy dozens of sport utility vehicles in the name of the environment. Those who know of Cottrell and his tough prison sentence stretching to 2010 — the judge piled on an additional three years, without benefit of a jury rendering — say Cottrell is being mishandled, persecuted and, within the prison walls, compelled to become the very radical his prosecutors argued he was in court. [more]