Power of Story Send a Tweet        
OpEdNews Op Eds

Dying in Prison

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message John Kiriakou       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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 503408
Become a Fan
  (8 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

Anti-torture whistleblower. CIA officer 1990-2004. Bestselling author. http://t.co/VupWLLafWk

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.

Follow Me on Twitter

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

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

Donald Trump Is Done

Opposing Tyranny From Both the Left and the Right

I'm Not Optimistic About the Next Four Years

The Pentagon's Propagandization of American Sports

Trump's Populism Is Really Racism and Classism

American Prisons: Protest Dog Food, Go to Solitary Confinement