On January 21, 1955, Carl began serving his term at Lagrange Penitentiary, some 20 miles northeast of Louisville. He was held on $40,000 bail, the highest ever set in Kentucky at that time. For the first 42 days, he was kept in solitary confinement.
As an attorney provided by the ACLU began work on an appeal, Anne tried to prepare herself for her own trial, but it never came to pass. The prosecution repeatedly postponed her and the other defendants’ trials. Meanwhile, all seven, including Carl, lost their jobs and faced public shunning. Through support from around the nation throughout the country, Anne managed to raise Carl’s bond, and he was released from prison after seven months. The two traveled the nation to publicize the wrongdoings in Louisville among civil liberties advocates.
Two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all state sedition laws invalid, saying they “put a damper on plaintiffs’ freedom of speech.” Carl’s conviction was reversed, and all charges were later dropped against all the defendants.
Freed of prosecution and at last able to reunite with their children, the Bradens nonetheless remained pariahs in Louisville for decades and not just among segregationists and anti-communists. In 1957, Louisville NAACP chair Earl Dearing stated in a letter to Carl, “Your presence on the membership committee threatens to disrupt the entire campaign.” Through their connections with activists outside the state, and with the help of their training as journalists, the Bradens eventuutally were hired as field secretaries for the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF), a small, New Orleans-based organization that recruited whites across the South to support this emerging black freedom movement.
No one was ever prosecuted for dynamiting the Wades’ house, and it sat damaged for almost two years amid continuing threats and prolonged legal entanglements. Andrew was reluctant to give up the family’s quest, but Charlotte could not feel safe there. Finally, with a court having ruled that the bank was entitled to foreclose on the house, in August 1957, the Wades put the house up for sale and purchased a home in the West End, where they remained for more than half a century.
Before Carl was transferred from the city jail to Lagrange, Anne was unable to visit him due to a rule stating that kept previous inmates could not visit other inmates for 90 days after their release. During that time, and while he served his sentence at Lagrange, the two corresponded by letter.