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Nun sentenced: 3 years in prison, Catholic nun broke into nuclear weapons area

Nun is given punishment for breaking into nuclear facility
Nun is given punishment for breaking into nuclear facility
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A nun sentenced to almost 3 years in prison this week for breaking into a nuclear weapons area complex was only doing so for peaceful reasons, but nonetheless broke the law and sabotaged property. The Catholic nun was aiming to give an antinuclear protest through her illegal act of breaking and entering, but instead will be getting a hefty prison sentence for the crime. Yahoo! News shares this Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, that the nun, Sister Megan Rice, was allotted her punishment alongside two other protesters recently in a high court.

Sister Megan Rice is the nun sentenced on charges of breaking into a high-security nuclear weapons site, located in Oak Ridge, Tenn., recently. This female activist and Catholic nun now faces a nearly 3 year prison term — formally 35 months behind bars — for her “peaceful act” on the grounds that her decision to enter the nuclear complex could have led to serious consequences for both her and other human lives.

The Tenn. nuclear plant, the Y-12 National Security Complex, was once called the “Fort Knox” of nuclear sites due to its high levels of stored uranium and other chemical elements. As punishment for stealing into the prohibited grounds back in 2012, Federal District Judge Amul Thapar formally sentenced Sister Megan Rice for sabotage this week. Two other protesters with her at the time each received roughly five years behind bars. The nun sentenced to 3 years was given the lightest of these criminal verdicts.

All of the peaceful activists have been waiting to hear the judge’s ruling after they were found guilty of breaking and entering the nuclear weapons area, sabotaging the plant itself, and damaging various forms of federal property. The three were also ordered to pay a total of over $50,000 in fines, though their recent sentencing was delayed due to the severe snowstorms that have hit the U.S. this Feb. 2014.

"Please have no leniency with me," Sister Rice told the judge in her closing statement. "To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me."

In order to break into the grounds, the nun sentenced to 3 years as well as her protesting partners used bolt cutters to slash through a security fence of the nuclear weapons complex area. The vigilante trio also managed to sneak their way past security guards and dogs, completely ignoring warnings that alerted trespassers may suffer deadly force. The protesters proceeded to throw blood on the bomb-level uranium storage bunkers once inside to show the devastation that nuclear activity can cause. They also sprayed Biblical peace messages and marked up the outside of the complex using a hammer. They were found two hours later, with the nun welcoming the guards to break bread with her and “be at peace.”

"The protesters put themselves at a high risk of losing their life in performing this act," a National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman has said. "We are thankful that did not occur."

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