A Terrible Thing to Waste
Convicted as an ecoterrorist, a brilliant young scholar nose-dives in prison. UPDATE: Exceprts of Billy Cottrell's letters from prison
By JUDITH LEWIS
Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 1:00 pm
Billy Cottrell in kindergarten
When Billy Cottrell was first sent up to Lompoc Federal Penitentiary, he thought he had landed the perfect job. A brilliant student of theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Cottrell has a high-functioning form of autism that makes it difficult for him to pick up on people’s emotions, but also gives him a grave appreciation for detail. At Lompoc, he thought, he would do secretarial duty in the “boiler-room office,” spending many hours alone, filing, sorting, typing and proofreading. He could be useful.
Before his first day, however, prison officials got nervous. They knew Cottrell was smart; they’d seen his physics textbooks and writings. And wasn’t this the kid who’d been convicted of blowing up Hummers somewhere in Los Angeles? Thinking he might find a way to rig the water heaters to blow up the prison, Cottrell says, they denied him the job.
Next, Cottrell was offered a job mowing Lompoc’s copious lawn. Read more...
This article joins my other posts on Billy's legal trials at http://lifelib.blogspot.com/2004/11/mrs-smith.html
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