Why Did Sister Megan Rice Ask for a Life Sentence?

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Yesterday I posted that the Transform Now Plowshares Three were sentenced for their infiltration and protest at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012. CBS News reported Sister Megan Rice’s response to her three-year sentence.

In her closing statement, Rice asked the judge to sentence her to life in prison, even though sentencing guidelines called for about six years.

“Please have no leniency with me,” she said. “To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me.”

At the time, her motive wasn’t clear to me. Was it “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch” in reverse? As in, “If you really wanted to punish me you wouldn’t give me a long sentence.” Why would Sister Megan want life in prison? My first thought was that a life sentence would be to the government’s detriment because it allows her to function a living, breathing martyr to disarmament.

But Catholic Online cleared it up.

A longer sentence would allow her “to serve the other women in prison,” Paul Magno, Rice’s friend and an anti-nuclear activist, told reporters.

Rice said she learned in prison to see her fellow inmates, not as perpetrators but as “victims” of a system that gave them few options.

Yet another cause for the good sister.