Reuters recently interviewed an Ohio Amish couple who have returned to their homes after nearly a year in prison, to which they were sentenced as a result of their hate crimes. Kathryn and Raymond Miller, from Bergholz, Ohio, had participated with 14 others in attacks on several other Amish people in northeastern Ohio under the direction of Sam Mullet, the bishop of the group.
In 2011, the attackers had invaded the homes of Amish families that had not agreed with Mr. Mullet’s orders and had roughly cut the hair and shaved the beards of their victims. Mr. Mullet and his followers were convicted in U.S. federal court of hate crimes. He was sent to prison for 15 years, while the others were sentenced to one to seven years. The story about the prison experiences of Mr. and Mrs. Miller was released by Reuters early last week.
The year in prison was evidently challenging to both of them, and they still have difficult issues to confront. The Amish normally do not have telephones in their homes, but Mr. Miller has to have one. He is on probation and he has to make daily phone calls to his probation officer. He complained that he gets frequent calls from sales personnel trying to sell them things. He says he can’t wait to get rid of the phone line. He also has to wear an electronic ankle monitor at all times, even while he is mowing his hay.
He evidently had a hard time in prison getting used to having a lot of free time, something that the Amish do not encourage. “I read, played softball and played pool. I liked pool and I was pretty good at it,” he told the reporter.
He said, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that they might want to put a pool table in Mr. Mullet’s home, meaning in the large room in that house the group used for their church services. The reporter noticed Mrs. Miller in the background shaking her head no. She said that she too played pool in prison, but they couldn’t play it around Bergholz. “The girls in prison gave me a hard time that I was gambling,” she said.
She had to leave her three young children in the care of her mother-in-law while she served her prison sentence. The older Mrs. Miller and her husband were among the victims of the attacks in 2011. Evidently, that lady takes the biblical injunction to forgive quite seriously, since her own son and daughter-in-law were among the attackers. Kathryn Miller’s three year old daughter is still calling the older Mrs. Miller “mom,” even though Kathryn has been home from prison for two months.
The reporter noted that Kathryn Miller used some prison slang in her conversation, referring to other prisoners as “cellies” and “bunkies.” She wore a smaller head covering while she was in prison, in addition to long brown dresses. She summed up her prison experience with a chilling phrase: “I didn’t feel like I was Amish.”