Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
OpEdNews Op Eds

Dying in Prison

By       Message John Kiriakou       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Author 503310
Become a Fan
  (40 fans)
- Advertisement -

Reprinted from Other Words

Inmates on their deathbeds should be free to spend their final days with their loved ones.

Cemetery for Moundsville Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV.
Cemetery for Moundsville Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV.
(Image by (Photo: Angie / Flickr))
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

Over the past three decades, judges and juries have filled America's prisons with non-violent offenders.

Many are serving draconian sentences for first-time offenses. Indeed, while only about 5 percent of the world's people live in the United States, our country is locking up nearly 25 percent of the world's prison population.

- Advertisement -

President Barack Obama has at least begun to address this issue by creating the Clemency Project, which connects prisoners to pro-bono lawyers who can argue for them to have their sentences reduced. Inmates are eligible if their sentences would have been shorter today than when they received them -- as long as they've already served at least half their time.

That doesn't help prisoners who haven't yet served half of their sentences. It's an especially glaring gap for prisoners who are elderly and gravely ill. Where is their relief?

A handful of prisoners on their deathbeds might go free under a federal practice called compassionate release. To qualify, an incarcerated person must be at least 65 years old and suffering from a deteriorating medical condition that diminishes their ability to function in a correctional facility.

And they have to have served 10 years of their sentence.

Last year, the federal government released 110 prisoners under the compassionate release program. While this was a record high, it was also statistically insignificant as we've got 2.24 million people behind bars.

To make matters worse, although the regulations for eligibility are clear, the entire program is "clouded in secrecy and bureaucracy," according to the Clemency Report.

- Advertisement -

I watched the failure of this program unfold in real time when I was incarcerated for blowing the whistle on the CIA's torture program. I was friendly with a prisoner I'll call Bill.

Bill was 68 years old and doing 30 years for a non-violent organized crime conviction. He'd served more than half his sentence.

I saw him in the hall one day, doubled over in pain. He told me that he'd never before experienced back pain like this. I suggested that he go to sick call in the morning and ask for Tylenol, the go-to painkiller in U.S. prisons.

He did, but he got no relief.

A couple of weeks later, Bill was walking with a cane and in obvious distress. He told me again that his back pain was excruciating. He'd asked the medical unit for an X-ray, and he'd been denied. The physician's assistant had just given him more Tylenol.

Two weeks later, Bill was in a wheelchair. I went to the chaplain and said that Bill was being denied medical care. He agreed to intervene.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

John Kiriakou spent 14 years at the CIA and two years in a federal prison for blowing the whistle on the agency's use of torture. He served on John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years as senior investigator into the Middle (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Forcing the Innocent to Plead Guilty, an American Disgrace

An Incompetent FBI Dropped the Ball on Syed Farook

If Hillary Clinton Gets a Pass on Espionage From President Obama, So Should Whistleblowers

The US Postal Service Is Spying On Us

Kathleen Kane: Another Whistleblower Goes to Prison in America

I Went to Prison for Disclosing CIA Torture. Gina Haspel Helped Cover It Up.