Updated: May 31, 2012 at 12:00 am
DENVER — Colorado’s foremost anti-tax crusader, who was convicted of tax evasion in December, is a free man.
Douglas Bruce walked out of a Denver jail early Thursday morning, and though he’d lost almost 50 pounds, his style hasn’t changed a bit.
Bruce stood outside the jail for more than an hour talking to reporters, badmouthing the justice system and likening his imprisonment to the tribulations of historic civil rights figures. He was carrying a large plastic bag of books, including titles about some of them.
“I very much identified with the activities of King and Mandela and Gandhi,” Bruce said, referring to Martin Luther King, Jr., South Africa icon Nelson Mandela and India’s Mahatma Gandhi.
Bruce was sentenced in February to 180 days in jail, but that sentence was commuted on May 7, in part because he helped clean up the inmate pod where he stayed. He was released after serving 103 days in the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center in downtown Denver, and has a welcome home party planned for this weekend.
Bruce’s attorney, David Lane, filed a notice of appeal immediately after the conviction last year, and Bruce predicted Thursday that his conviction will be overturned.
He said his trial and incarceration in Denver equated to being what he called “kidnapped.”
“As I said before, they can take my body, but they cannot take my soul,” he said, paraphrasing Henry David Thoreau.
Bruce said he was sent to solitary confinement more than once, for no good reason. He also said the jail guards were violent toward prisoners. One guard repeatedly challenged an inmate to a fistfight, and called him a “convict bitch,” Bruce said.
“The guy is unbalanced,” Bruce said. “Apparently, they don’t have any psychological training.”
Bruce also said he’d been told he would have his throat cut and be sent home in a body bag.
Capt. Frank Gale, the Denver Sheriff Department’s public information officer, said Bruce was making what he called “wild accusations.”
Gale said he immediately looked into Bruce’s allegations on Thursday, and found no record of any violent incidents Bruce described. Gale also said the jail has no such thing as “solitary confinement,” but does have “administrative segregation,” which is used occasionally for safety purposes.
Each of Bruce’s three trips to administrative segregation were at his request, Gale said.
Gale defended the jail guards, and said they would never allow a guard to pick a fight with inmates or call them names, as Bruce described.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that people don’t like being in jail,” Gale said.
Gale said he welcomes formal complaints, which enable the department’s Internal Affairs to investigate and ensure the safety of the inmates. Bruce never filed a complaint during his time in jail.
“His stay in the facility was as uneventful as anyone else’s,” Gale said.
Lane, Bruce’s attorney, said it would likely be a year before any appeal hearings are held.
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