Three activists, one an octogenarian Catholic nun, were sentenced to between three and five years in jail Tuesday for intruding onto a nuclear site in 2012.
Catholic nun Megan Rice, 84, received a sentence of just shy of three years in prison, while Michael Walli, 65, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 58, each received sentences of five years and two months in prison. The three have already served eight and a half months while awaiting sentencing.
The trio of activists call themselves Transform Now Plowshares. They were arrested in July 2012 for trespassing on the Y-12 National Security Complex, a nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The activists cut through several fences and spray painted biblical messages on the sides of buildings that house enough highly enriched uranium to make an estimated 10,000 nuclear weapons. They were convicted in May of intending to harm national security and damaging government property.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar praised the activists for their conscience, but said, “If all that energy and passion was devoted to changing the laws, perhaps real change would’ve occurred by today,” the Washington Post reports. The sentences were less than the government had asked for; however, he said he hoped the threat of significant jail time would “lead people back to the political process I fear they’ve given up on.”