On May 19, eight pro-life prisoners of conscience entered the Allantown prison system to serve what may turn out to be a one-year sentence. At the sentencing hearing after their trial for a rescue in Allentown, Pa., in July 1991, Judge James Knoll Gardner offered to have them serve only one month providing they pay a fine and accept probation. They all refused.
The mother of two of the prisoners of conscience, Mrs. Virginia Bond, of Stroudsburg, Pa., also a part of the group being sentenced refused to accept probation.
The judge would not accept this, saying that she was on probation, and did not put her in jail.
Another member of this group, Nancy McNulty, could not be present for the sentencing hearing because she is serving time in Pittsburgh prison system. She will be sentenced alone at a later date.
Prayer vigils outside the judge’s office are planned. Also, it is understood that Allentown Bishop Thomas Welsh may visit them in prison.
An interesting sidelight on this is the close relationship between several prisoners. Mark and Gretchen Nelson were married on May 2. Mark spent a year in prison with Mike Schmeidicke. Gretchen is Mike’s sister and Nancy McNulty is his fiancée. Mike Schmeidicke has spent two years in prison and is still being held even though commuted by the State Pardon Board because he refuses to agree to stay away from abortion mills.
After the sentencing hearing, Mark Nelson remarked that he had spent a year in jail in Pittsburgh because he refused even to pay five dollars and he was full prepared to spend another year in jail rather than pay this fine.