Jeff Luers

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Jeffrey "Free" Luers is a political activist from Los Angeles, California, who served a ten year prison sentence for arson in the US state of Oregon. On February 14, 2007, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned Luers' sentence, instructing the Lane County circuit court to determine a new sentence.[1] That court reduced the sentence from 22 years, 8 months to 10 years in February 2008, after what The Independent described as an "international campaign for a more appropriate sentence for a crime in which no one was hurt." [2]

Background[edit]

Luers is a former resident of Eugene, Oregon and helped establish Red Cloud Thunder, a group of activists who organized a tree sitting campaign to stop the clear-cutting of old growth forests outside of Fall Creek, Oregon.

Arson and sentencing[edit]

In 2000 he set fire to three light trucks at Romania Chevrolet dealership in Eugene as a protest against excessive consumption and global warming, along with Craig "Critter" Marshall, who was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.[3] Luers might have received a comparable sentence if he had not been convicted of an earlier attempted arson as well.[4] Luers was initially sentenced to 22 years, 8 months in prison.[5] Supporters argued that his sentence was excessive, because no one was injured and property damage was estimated at only $28,000.[5]

The Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the sentence in 2007, remanding the case to the Lane County circuit court for resentencing. In February 2008, the circuit court approved a reduction in his term to 10 years, most of which had already been served.

Reaction to sentence[edit]

Luers has at times been a cause célèbre among some radicals, anti-prison activists, and individuals associated with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), although Luers has said that he does not consider himself to be an ELF member.[6]

Mistaken release[edit]

On October 2, 2009 Luers was released from prison after being granted another 30% term reduction. Department of Corrections officials assumed he was eligible for early release under a bill enacted that year by the state legislature, but he was not. Luers was taken back into custody within hours.[7]

Release in 2009[edit]

After serving 9.5 years, Luers was released from prison on December 16, 2009. He was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! about a week later and spoke about his sentencing, time in prison, and environmental attitudes. His attorney, Lauren Regan, was interviewed as well.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Appeal from Circuit Court, Lane County
  2. ^ The Battle of Bear Creek: New Threat in Americas Backyard, The Independent, March 5th 2008.
  3. ^ Dicum, Gregory (June 22, 2005). "GREEN Flaming SUVs: A conversation with convicted ecoterrorist Jeff Luers". Sfgate.com (Hearst Communications). Retrieved September 24, 2009. 
  4. ^ Barcott, Bruce (2002-04-07). "From Tree-Hugger to Terrorist". The New York Times. p. 5. Retrieved 2008-02-28. "Marshall pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and unlawful possession of a destructive device and received a five-and-a-half-year sentence. Luers might have gotten a similar sentence, but a police search turned up evidence linking him to an earlier attempted arson. Though Luers denied any connection to the earlier case, he was found guilty of that crime, too, and was sentenced to 22 years and 8 months in state prison." 
  5. ^ a b Taylor, Rebecca (February 29, 2008). "Arsonist’s sentence cut in half". Register-Guard. 
  6. ^ An interview with jailed “eco-terrorist” Jeffrey Luers | Grist
  7. ^ http://www.modbee.com/news/national/story/878849.html
  8. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Environmental Activist Jeff "Free" Luers Speaks Out in First Interview After 9.5 Years Behind Bars | Democracy Now!

External links[edit]