SAN DIEGO – One of the American hikers who was detained in an Iranian prison spoke to a classroom full of law students in San Diego Thursday.
In 2009, Sarah Shourd was held in solitary confinement for almost 14 months. She’s now traveling the nation and sharing her story.
“Your days are restless, your eyes constantly wondering around the room looking for something or anything and you never, never stop asking yourself, ‘When am I going to get out?’” said Shourd.
She was living in Syria and educating Iraqi refugees when she, her fiancé and a close friend went for a weekend trip hiking on the northern Iraqi-Kurdistan border. That’s when she said they must have hiked too far.
“We were waved over by Iranian border patrol agents not knowing what they wanted from us. They waved us across an unmarked boarder, forced us into a vehicle, drove us to prison, tore us apart and threw us into solitary cells,” Shourd said.
Shourd spent 410 days behind bars alone in a cell with one small window.
Because of her experiences, today she’s working with the Innocence Project and working to get laws in place ending and limiting solitary confinement laws in the U.S.
“Today, there are up to 80,000 people that are held in solitary confinement in our country and most of them don’t need to be there,” she said. “They’re in solitary for small infractions. They have mental illness and I want people to know what a serious problem this is.”
On April 27, the Innocence Project is planning a 600 mile march to Sacramento to create awareness for 12 different clients who are believed to be serving time for crimes they didn’t commit.