1967: Six Months In Jail

In the summer of 1967, Sheila began her six-month jail term at the Washington Women’s House of Detention.

(We don’t know the details behind the year-long delay between the appeal and the start of her term, although this may have been intended to allow her to finish her college degree at Catholic University.)

Sheila was an uncooperative and troublesome prisoner. All of the other protestors who received six-month sentences were released in less time, but Sheila’s behavior earned her additional time:

  • She organized literacy classes in which the better-educated prisoners would teach the less-educated ones, in violation of jail rules prohibiting any prisoner organizations.
  • Sheila went on a hunger strike to protest the jail conditions, but nobody had told her that you were allowed to drink while on a hunger strike, so she became seriously dehydrated until the guards forced fluids into her by IV.
  • She stole a US flag from the front of the jail, and then set it on fire on the lawn during the arrival of a visiting delegation coming to review the jail.
  • She refused to do her jail job of washing dishes during the time that hundreds of people arrested during the October 21, 1967 “levitate the Pentagon” march were still being held.

She was released in January 1968.

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