With Unshakable Faith: Freed ‘Tax Rebel’ Looks Ahead

By Mark Anderson

Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent Sherry Peel Jackson says that her three years in federal prison—for what the federal prosecution alleged was her “willful failure to file” returns for federal income taxes—ended in February of this year. And while she is still on supervised release, she is eagerly awaiting Aug. 8, 2012.

That’s when her right to free speech, courtesy of a government originally designed to protect this and other rights, will be fully returned to her.

It’s clear that her imprisonment, marked by episodes of illness amid five consecutive months of solitary confinement, did not even scratch her enduring faith in God, and her sense of gratitude and purpose seem just as ironclad.


“He made me an exhorter who goes out to speak,” Mrs. Jackson calmly stated, underscoring God’s calling, while facing the future in a society where the right to criticize government policy and act upon one’s convictions is becoming more and more conditional—light years from the inviolable rights on which the nation was founded.

The federal income tax, born in 1913, became the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It provided an ostensible basis for creating the IRS—a massive agency whose equally massive recall of money in circulation, via taxation, ensures that the nation’s seemingly untouchable creditors are on the receiving end of a torrential gravy train that has pilfered the middle class to service the nation’s crushing debt, and left the nation even more shortchanged in terms of purchasing power among the populace.

So when people like Mrs. Jackson come along, take a position among the tax collectors, see such colossal injustice before them and decide to act, the government gets a bit annoyed. Thus, Mrs. Jackson was sentenced to prison Feb. 14, 2008. A catch is that under the federal government’s view, the “willful failure to file” means a person believes they have a legal obligation to file an income tax return but elect not to do so. But Mrs. Jackson espoused the view that there is no law obligating individuals, namely wage earners, to file a federal tax return.

This devoted wife and mother of two worked on books in prison, while also learning about the harrowing ordeals of other innocent Americans imprisoned in a system that seems bent on finding a felon in every home to feed a for-profit, growing prison system which, as she saw firsthand, is increasingly coming under private control.

“I spent a few months in a detention center that was actually run by a company called the GEO Group, Inc.  When I had [a] good friend . . . look it up, turns out they also ran Guantanamo Bay,” she wrote on her blog, SherryPeelJackson.org.

Notably, GEO runs the Migrant Operations Center at “Gitmo,” as AFP determined.

GEO, whose online map shows 48 other North American GEO detention centers, is the same company in which then-Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez were investors when a Willacy County, Texas grand jury indicted them exactly three years ago, in November 2008, on state charges related to prisoner abuse.

Furthermore, one day while sitting on her Florida prison bed, Mrs. Jackson realized that the Second Amendment is just as imperiled as the First, but in a back-door way. She put it like this:

“Many, in and out of government, have been fighting [for] the Second Amendment . . . . Now, there is a back door hanging wide open to take away [that right] for good! When a person is made a felon they are supposedly no longer allowed to own or possess a gun/firearm.  This new felon can’t even live in a house that contains a gun.

“Well, if ‘they produce a felon in every household, which is what’s happening now from the gardener to the grandmother, then no one will be able to own or possess a ‘firearm,’  . . .  thus wiping out the Second Amendment without passing any new law.”

Content working part-time at her church in Stone Mountain, Ga., Mrs. Jackson is attending college via a student loan, though, to her, a big career is not so enticing. Her real calling is to speak out on women’s issues, on health matters and on social issues.

And since Aug. 8 is when all her free-speech rights will return—and also when she can finally travel beyond the north-Georgia district without the advance permission of federal authorities—her last shackles will come off.

But, as she knows, with so many innocents still behind bars to maintain and expand a for-profit system, their liberation is still a long way off—but it’s still a worthy goal for all those who understand that when even one of us is wrongly denied freedom, we are all imperiled. Prison bars are redundant if society imprisons the soul and paralyzes our will to improve the lives of all Americans.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the roving editor for AFP. He and his wife Angie provide photographs and video of the events they cover for AFP. Listen to Mark’s radio show at republicbroadcasting.org, weekdays at 8 p.m. central. Email him at at [email protected].