KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – An 84-year-old nun was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in prison for breaking into a nuclear weapons complex and defacing a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium, a demonstration that exposed serious security flaws at the Tennessee plant.
Two other peace activists who broke into the facility with Megan Rice were sentenced to more than five years in prison, in part because they had much longer criminal histories of mostly nonviolent civil disobedience.
Although officials said there was never any danger of the protesters reaching materials that could be detonated or made into a dirty bomb, the break-in raised questions about safekeeping at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The facility holds the nation’s primary supply of bomb-grade uranium.
After the break-in, the complex had to be shut down, security forces were re-trained and contractors were replaced.
In her closing statement, Rice asked the judge to sentence her to life in prison, even though sentencing guidelines called for about six years.
“Please have no leniency with me,” she said. “To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me.”
She said the U.S. government was spending too much money on weapons and the military, and she told the judge about the many letters of support she had received.
sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.