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May 11, 1979 - Image 13

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-11

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, May 11, 1979-Page 13
Minister freed after fight for prison reform

CINCINNATI (AP) - A 73-year-old
minister was set free yesterday, nearly
four months after he went to jail rather
than answer questions that he felt
might lead to longer sentences for two
convicts. He vowed to continue his fight
for prison reform.
"This is only the beginning," said the
pale, thin Rev. Maurice McCrackin as
he emerged from Holmes Hospital in a
wheelchair. He had been taken there
last week suffering from the effects of
the second fast of his imprisonment,
which began Jan. 19.
"I NOW HAVE an understanding of .
what jails are from tie inside," he said.
McCrackin was jailed after being
cited for contempt when he refused to
answer a grand jury's questions about

two escaped convicts who allegedly
held him captive last year.
David Pilkington and William
McKinney, along with H. John Conte,
allegedly took McCrackin hostage after
escaping from a deputy sheriff who was
returning them to the Southern Ohio
Correctional Facility in Lucasville af-
ter a trial. Conte was later killed,
Pilkington and McKinney surrendered.
DURING HIS imprisonment, Mc-
Crackin repeatedly spoke out against
the prison system and refused to an-
swer any questions that might prolong
the two men's stay in a prison system
he feels is inhumane.
His release had seemed likely earlier
this month, but the grand jury extended
its life in order to get his testimony.

Finally, Hamilton County Judge
Rupert Doan ruled that he would be
released Thursday even if he did not
"I WOULDN'T call this a victory,"
said McCrackin, answering a repor-
ter's questions in a soft voice. "There
are still a lot of things left undone. But I
think I have focused attention on the
"I hope now we can all work and build
to make the system more humane."
The possibility exists that McCrackin
could be returned to jail. The grand
jury, which is still in session, could sub-
poena him again, and he could be called
to testify in a trial starting next week
involving the two escapees.
"I WILL never testify against these

men," McCrackin said. "I won't
surrender my body. They'll have to
take that, but they will never take my
One of his attorneys referred to Mc-
Crackin as a "saint." Hamilton County
Prosecutor Simon Leis Jr. said the
minister's decision to promote prison
reform by refusing to testify was
McCrackin's congregation at the
Community Church of Cincinnati has
prayed and written letters and picketed
for his release.
"It's funny. We are all really conser-
vative," said Dorothy Patternan, who
has prayed in McCrackin's churches
for 33 years.

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