When Lyn Ulbricht is home, a 20-minute drive from the maximum-security penitentiary in Florence, Colo., she’s frequently up at five in the morning. After fixing herself a cup of tea and doing some devotional reading, she turns to meditation and prayer. She often visualizes her son Ross—who until a recent transfer was locked up in that nearby penitentiary—as a free man. Sometimes she pictures him emerging from prison to be greeted by a celebratory group of family and friends. Other times she imagines feeding him a good, home-cooked meal. Or she envisions spending time with him on the beach, like they used to do on family vacations in Costa Rica, before Ross was arrested and Lyn’s life changed in ways she could never have imagined.
But on this early November day, Lyn Ulbricht is in Las Vegas, sitting at a booth at World Crypto Con at the Aria Resort and Casino on the Strip. On the table in front of her are piles of FreeRoss.org stickers and fliers; a clear plastic box for cash donations; a mailing list sign-up sheet; and a pad of purple, butterfly-emblazoned stationery available for anyone looking to write Ross, now 34, a note in prison. Behind her are two banners, one bearing a charcoal-style portrait of Ross and the message “Help free Ross Ulbricht! Our Goal: 500,000 Signatures.”