In both interviews, I discussed the circumstances of my release and provided insights about life behind bars in an Alabama jail--one I was told that is built to the level of a maximum-security prison, although without the "amenities" of a prison. My jailhouse experiences included witnessing an inmate suicide.
My release came after my wife, Carol, managed to remove certain items from this blog, along with some from my Twitter and YouTube accounts. She then prepared a proposed release order and twice reached Judge Claud Neilson by phone to ensure that everything was in order. I called Carol from jail at about 2 p.m. last Wednesday, not knowing if any progress had been made. But she talked about her conversations with Neilson, and about two hours later, I was told at the jail to pack up my things and come to the door--those usually are the magic words that an inmate is about to go home.
Removal of the Web items was not our desired outcome, I told the interviewers. We had hoped to receive legal assistance that would have allowed me to be released based on the fact that a preliminary injunction in my case is unlawful, contrary to long-held U.S. Supreme Court law under Near v. Minnesota. But that process was dragging out, and having witnessed one inmate death and hearing about two others while I was at the jail, I felt it was imperative to seek my release by any lawful means necessary. That meant abiding by a court order that had been issued on October 21, 2013.
Colmes asked if I could have accomplished the same result by acting earlier, and I said, "I don't know." I noted that I had challenged service, which was conducted via an unconstitutional traffic stop, but I was arrested before ever receiving a ruling on that. I should note now that I was prepared to challenge the unlawful notice we received (barely 24 hours) on the preliminary-injunction hearing, but again I was behind bars before that could be done.
|Peter B. Collins|
Given the court's tone, I saw almost no way to get out at any time during late 2013. I sensed that things might be softening a bit sometime in February 2014. Carol states that during her two phone conversations with Neilson, the judge was cordial and came across as fair and understanding. The court seemed open to making my release happen quickly, and I did not have that impression earlier.
In the interviews, I got emotional at several points, especially when discussing my reunion with Carol, who did heroic work to keep this blog going and to share my story with any reporters who wanted to listen. I also got emotional when discussing my fellow inmates, who generally treated me with respect and kindness. Several became friends, and I hope to stay in touch with them in the future. I noted that many inmates seem to have mental-health issues--drug and alcohol problems--that do not seem to get proper attention in the jail environment.
Here are links to the two interviews. The full Collins interview requires a subscription, but a preview clip is available to the general public:
Alan Colmes interview
Peter B. Collins interview