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Woodford County Jail Bans Books to Retaliate Against Animal Rights Prisoners

December 10, 2013

Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff are two Los Angeles animal rights activists who were arrested in rural Illinois for “possession of burglary tools.” After a traffic stop in which they refused consent to a police search, their car was searched anyway. Inside, police allege they found bolt cutters, wire cutters, muriatic acid, ski masks, and cammo clothing.

Police believe these items were “burglary tools” intended to be used in a crime, and arrested Kevin and Tyler. The two are held on felony charges which carry up to three years in prison. They have remained in jail since their arrest on August 14.

There is no evidence linking them to any crime or intended crime, nor were they arrested on anyone’s property, and their history as animal advocates is the only basis for these serious felony charges.

For over a month now, Woodford County Jail has blocked books sent by family and friends from reaching inmates. This means that not only Kevin and Tyler, but every other inmate, has had zero access to new reading material sent from the outside—we do not need to tell you that this is a serious violation of their First Amendment rights.

Grievances have been filed by Kevin, officials have been contacted by liaisons, and still there has been no movement from Superintendent Mike Waterforth or Sheriff James Pierceall to lift this arbitrary ban.

On October 9, Kevin and Tyler had a pre-trial hearing. They have new attorneys, who appeared in court and officially took over the defense from the public defender (who had been defending them so far).  They are hard-working attorneys from Chicago who are committed to fighting hard for Kevin and Tyler, and they are in good hands. Kevin’s attorney received some evidence being used against him from the police on his case, and another piece of evidence from the State’s Attorney. The next court date was set for November 6. They actually have a trial date set for November 18, although that date is expected to be pushed back.

Their attorneys had a visit with both of them after the court date. Both were said to be in good spirits.  They said the food situation has improved greatly. Tyler is playing a lot of chess and cards. They are still being refused access to books and the boredom has been strenuous on both of them.

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