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Life Arts    H4'ed 10/13/10

Judy White Fights For Incarcerated Husband's Access to His Prescriptions

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This week, you wrote President Obama. Why? What other avenues had you already tried?

Desperation. Knowing our telephone calls are monitored - they pay federal employees to listen to us talk - several times I spoke directly to "Big Brother" and asked them to please give Gary his medication. Each day, Gary has requested his medication, but was refused, including even yesterday evening and this morning. He told me the only hope he had was if I was able to do something, because prisoners are nothing to the officials running the prisons. (He and the "sisterhood" told me of various retaliatory and punitive actions taken by staff against prisoners who asked for what they needed, such as medicine.)

I asked his attorney to file something on an emergency basis; she responded, "ok" but then just didn't. I contacted other attorneys and was told I would need to file suit against the warden and the BOP in federal court in South Carolina (extremely expensive also, but there is no price for Gary's life and health; if Gary does not have his medicine today, I will have to file suit, regardless of the expense) asking for emergency relief, but not before contacting the warden. I wrote, e-mailed, and faxed the warden and the executive assistant at the prison to be sure they were aware of the situation and begged them to help my husband.

That was last Friday, Day 10 without his medication. I received no response, but later in the day, Gary notified me that I was not approved for Columbus Day visitation. We were terribly disappointed, but I decided to spend the time I would have been in the car trying to help Gary. On Friday, after I called the prison and asked to speak with the warden or executive assistant and was told they had left early for the holiday weekend, I sent copies of the ignored letter by mail and/or e-mail to our congressman and senators, every member of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees (they have BOP oversight), the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) Washington and regional offices, the Office of the Inspector General, the BOP's medical director in Washington, several prisoner and family support groups, and anyone else I could think of or who was suggested as possibly being able to help. But this is not something I did lightly. First, I researched and found BOP "Program Statements" and other written policies that supported Gary's absolute entitlement to his medication.

The White Family

What are you hoping to accomplish? And are you fearful that your speaking out will result in worse treatment for Gary?

We are well aware of and concerned about retaliation and vindictiveness, but Gary's life and health are at stake. My husband is innocent and we remain hopeful this wrong will be righted, and very soon. I want Gary to live and maintain the good health he enjoyed before he was imprisoned (wrongly), to return home to me and our family, including the "furry children" who still look for him and sleep on clothes he wore that I just can't bring myself to wash or they will lose his scent. Our entire extended family has been harmed and we will never be the same - we know the "justice" system is irreparably broken and innocent people are in prison.

Americans were rightly outraged over the abuses at Abu Ghraib, but we have remained ignorant of political imprisonment and abuses of American citizens on our own soil. What I hope to accomplish - what must be accomplished - is to save Gary, and, in the process, to hope we all recognized the gift of humanity, that we are all humans, even prisoners, regardless of their guilt. Unless they have been given the death penalty, they shouldn't be killed (or harmed) by medical abuse. Even those who are executed aren't killed by withholding their prescription medications.

How right you are, Judy. What a nightmare. Good luck in getting this matter resolved. And thanks so much for talking with me.

***

Judy's letter to President Obama

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 

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