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Draft Resister Sentenced--to Stay Home : Refusal to Register Gets Him 6 Months in Grandmother's House

September 22, 1985|RICHARD DE ATLEY | Associated Press

He's an unlikely prisoner in an unlikely prison: A former Yale philosophy student who volunteers for soup-kitchen work is confined for six months to the home of his disabled grandmother.

David Wayte, 24, who refused to register for the draft in 1980 and made sure federal authorities knew about it, says his sentence was fair.

"But it was unexpected," Wayte said in a telephone interview from his grandmother's three-bedroom tract home in Whittier. "I didn't know that kind of sentence existed in the United States."

U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter sentenced Wayte on Sept. 10, ordering him to stay home and relinquish his duties at the Pasadena soup kitchen. "I'm punishing you by not allowing you to perform such a service," the judge said.

Some Loss, Some Gain

"Society loses, in a sense," Hatter said. "But it gains in that it has a person punished for violating the law."

The sentence also forced Wayte to quit his job at a school for developmentally disabled adults. He could have been fined $10,000 and sent to prison for 10 years.

Wayte and his wife, Jacqui, already were staying with his grandmother, Helen Wayte, and he went home after court and began serving his time. His confines include the front and back yards.

"She has been a good companion to me this week," Wayte said of his wife. "It's stressful to her, in that it's difficult for her to leave the home without me feeling resentful about it. And it's hard for me to watch her go and know I can't be with her."

Chores, Letter Writing

Wayte said he does house chores, writes letters, exercises on a stationary bicycle (to replace jogging), helps nurses care for his grandmother, and reads.

"I've got a list of books. Everyone has advice on how I should spend my time and what I should read," he said. "My father gave me 'The Last Temptation of Christ,' by Nikos Kazantzakis."

Wayte said no restrictions were placed on his communications or freedom to see visitors.

A federal probation officer has contacted him, telling Wayte he would call without warning over the next six months to make sure the prisoner is complying with the sentence.

Others have compromised for his sake.

"The Friends meeting house that I attend has volunteered to have a special meeting for worship at my house on Sundays," Wayte said.

Not Full Member

Wayte said he was attracted to the Quaker religion in 1981, when he first became involved in anti-war activities. He described himself as an attender, not a full member of the church.

"I'll always follow my conscience and speak out for my beliefs," Wayte said. "I see no reason not to be active regarding draft registration."

Wayte followed up his refusal to register in 1980 with letters to then-President Jimmy Carter and the Selective Service explaining his position. He was indicted in July, 1982, on one count of failing to register.

That November, Hatter ruled that the government violated Wayte's right to free speech by prosecuting only vocal opponents of draft registration. But an appeals court overturned the ruling in July, 1983, and in March of this year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Wayte then pleaded guilty to a single count of failing to register for the draft.

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