I am a convicted criminal and have spent time in jail. I was lured into this “life of crime” in 1978. Since then, judges have called me “a dangerous person from whom society needs to be protected” and a “recidivist.” I have even been called a “terrorist.” Most recently I served 34 days at the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac, Michigan.
On March 31, 2023, I was booked into cellblock F1. “Fresh” prisoners usually attract attention, and I was no exception. A black, heavyset inmate approached me accompanied by two others and said: “You just don’t look like someone who gets into much trouble. What ‘cha in here for anyway?”
I hadn’t yet been in the cellblock one hour and already fellow prisoners were curious as to why I shared their fate. I was somewhat trepid regarding how I would be treated once inmates knew about my “crime.” Nonetheless, I told them: “I was arrested when I tried to talk women out of abortion at an abortion center and provide a witness to the humanity of their preborn children. When the police came, I told them I couldn’t leave because human lives were at stake.”
“What! You gotta be kiddin’!” was the reaction of the inmate who had asked the question. By now, a tiny crowd of other women surrounded me—all with similar reactions. “You’re in here for that? Why is that a crime?” And: “That’s ridiculous!”
The initial shock regarding my “crime” was immediately followed by an intense discussion about abortion itself. I was interrogated as to whether I believed there were any instances in which I thought abortion was justified. One slender black woman asked: “Hey, come on, what about a thirteen-year-old who’s raped?” My explanation of why even a baby conceived in rape possessed a right to life began my 34-day witness to the sanctity of life.
I was not alone. Fellow pro-lifer Laura Gies had been arrested with me and also booked into cellblock F1.
On April 23, 2022, we had participated in a Red Rose Rescue with four others at Northland Family Planning located in Southfield, Michigan—where the preborn are killed through the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy. Red Rose Rescuers enter the abortion facility to talk with the women in the waiting room. We seek to persuade them to give life to their children, offering words of encouragement, practical material assistance, pamphlets about abortion, and red roses. Attached to each rose is a card with phone numbers of local pregnancy help centers and more words of encouragement.
If any women are still intent on killing their children, at least some of the rescuers stay with the soon-to-be victims of abortion and continue to plead for their lives. The rescuers cannot just leave the unwanted; they have to be taken away.
So when the police eventually arrived, we were handcuffed, arrested, and charged with the misdemeanor crimes of trespassing, interference with business relations, and obstruction of an officer—the latter “crime” only because we failed to obey the “lawful” order to leave the abortion center.
Not operating in the objective world
In February 2023 we stood trial in the 46th District Court of Judge Cynthia Arvant. We were ably defended by Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center. With every legal and moral argument, Muise presented our motion to Arvant requesting a “defense of others”—a defense by which we could explain to the jury that our “trespass” on private property was justified to prevent the greater harm of death to others. The motion was denied.
In a post-Roe America, preborn children in the state of Michigan are not recognized as “others.”
Arvant insisted that she had no choice but to impose a sentence and to keep us away from abortion centers, where we were likely to break the law again. After all, a jury of our peers found us guilty of crimes. I said: “In the objective world of what’s right and wrong, I am not guilty.”
On February 21, we were convicted, and sentencing was scheduled for March 30. Arvant hoped we would walk out of her court satisfied that we were “only” subject to 18 months of probation. However, she imposed that we remain five hundred feet from every abortion center in the county, including hospitals that perform abortions. And she required that we verbally affirm that we would “agree to comply” with the condition. In conscience, we could not do so.
Arvant responded: “I don’t operate in the objective world.”1
And there it is! By not operating in the objective world, all kinds of crimes—such as abortion—are justified. Judge Arvant, and all others like her, prefer to prop up and order their “reality” according to a lie. The only “reality” that matters is that which is codified by law, and “the Arvants” actually believe that such legally codified lies are the foundation of social order.
We were immediately shackled and transported to the Oakland County Jail to start a jail term that would take us through Holy Week and Easter. However, in the midst of the deprivations and indignities of our arrest, our trial, and the jail experience itself was a continued witness to the injustice of abortion and the sanctity of life. Cellblock F1 became our new mission field.
The jail experience was filled with enormous blessings. The first was the nearly unanimous respect we received from our fellow inmates. Almost everyone believed we didn’t belong in jail for our “crime” of trying to save babies from abortion. Their respect was very humbling. Knowing we were devout Christians, many of the prisoners wanted to talk with us. Some even opened up about their own abortions, which they regretted. We counseled them, prayed with them, and even evangelized them.
One of the first things I noticed when arriving in F1 was how many inmates were wearing plastic rosaries around their necks or wrapped around their wrists. My cellmate was very Catholic and very pro-life. She, Laura, and I teamed up and began to pray the rosary in the noisy day room. We invited a few other Catholic inmates to join us. They did. Then even a few more spontaneously joined our group—some not even Catholic! It was a humbling experience to listen to the non-Catholics, some with no more than a ninth-grade education, stumble though the prayers with such sincerity. We soon had a regular group and prayed the rosary every morning.
Saving the preborn at the Oakland County Jail
Laura Gies’ cellmate Moniesha was pregnant. When this large, black woman found out why Laura was in jail, she wanted to talk. She had recently given birth to a baby. Pregnant again, she told Laura that she was considering aborting the baby.
Ironically, the baby born in December had been saved by sidewalk counselors who stood at the edge of the large parking lot at Northland Family Planning and who had reached out to Moniesha! Laura talked to her cellmate about God, her life, and the beauty of the preborn child growing within her, and Moniesha made a decision to give life to her baby. This was Good Friday.
A lesson in spiritual surrender
Three weeks into our jail sentence one inmate physically attacked another. This immediately caused the deputies to order the whole cellblock on a “lockdown”—all inmates must return to their cells. I was already there. Complying with the lockdown, my cellmate entered. Both of us stood near the cell’s metal door left ajar about two inches, confused as to what was going on. Suddenly a female deputy came by and angrily yelled: “Miller, when a lockdown is ordered, you’re supposed to shut the cell door!” and she slammed it shut. My cellmate stood three feet away from me, but oddly I was singled out. When order was restored, another deputy assigned to F1 for the evening informed me that I was to serve a punishment for the infraction—namely that I was put on personal lockdown, forced to confinement in my cell for the next 24 hours.
I was instantly consumed by anger and surprised at how quickly I was overcome by that emotion. Furthermore, I was angry at myself for my angry reaction to the unjust punishment. My goal had been to give all my sufferings to God in atonement for the injustice and sin of abortion and to unite my sufferings to Jesus on the cross.
About thirty minutes into that lockdown, I heard the loud, terse voice of the deputy call my name. I climbed down from my upper bunk and made my way to the deputy’s office. When I stood before him, he handed me a book. I had no idea where the book came from or why he was giving it to me. It had no card or letter attached. I looked at the title and was instantly amazed. The book was He Leadeth Me, the spiritual autobiography of Father Walter Ciszek. Accused of being a Vatican spy following World War II, Ciszek spent over 20 years in Soviet prisons and work camps that included years in solitary confinement. That I should receive this tome just now was God’s voice to me, and it certainly put my own jail experience well into perspective! Fr. Ciszek’s sufferings told me I had very little to complain about. I took the cherished volume back to my cell and began reading it immediately. My anger melted away, and I surrendered to everything.
Being on a personal lockdown was very new to me. I didn’t know what was expected of an inmate in this situation. What was I to do at mealtimes? My very supportive cellmate said she would ask on my behalf. So, when inmates were called for breakfast, my cellmate left the cell. I waited anxiously for her return. Within minutes she was back and blurted out: “The deputy today has no record of your being on any lockdown!”
I was overjoyed! I felt like an angel had come to release me as once an angel had done for St. Peter.
Continued solidarity with the outcast
What does it mean for pro-lifers to be in jail? It actually makes sense for us to be there. In this culture of death, pro-lifers have placed themselves on the side of an unwanted, outcast people. During our trial, the preborn remained outcast, and so convicted in defense of them, we were “counted among the wicked” and sent to jail.
Yet, being outcasts will never prevent us from fighting for the right to life of all babies. Neither will we apologize for doing so, even if that means we will always be considered outcasts as well.
1. The transcript was made available through its purchase by Lynn Mills for LifeSiteNews.
This article originally appeared in Crisis Magazine and has been condensed here with permission.