I was told that Frank Lee Smith died screaming in pain from Florida Department of Corrections inexcusably poor management of his end-of-life cancer care. As it turns out, Frank Lee Smith was innocent. He was DNA-exonerated months after his death. Compassionate releases should happen every day of the week. Skilled medical professionals know when death is imminent; ridiculously low rates of compassionate releases is an announcement that our prisons simply don’t hire qualified medical professionals.
By Jamie Fellner
Special to The Bee
California has a hard time letting dying and incapacitated prisoners leave: Over the past two years, an average of 37 prisoners a year received either medical parole (if incapacitated) or a sentence recall (if dying). That’s 0.028 percent of the prison population.
There are no national figures, but our research suggests state and federal laws permitting the early release of prisoners who are terminally ill, permanently incapacitated or simply too old to get out of bed are greatly underutilized.
Release on medical grounds is conspicuous by its absence.
In the Federal Bureau of Prisons – which with 218,000 prisoners, operates the largest prison system in the country – 30 prisoners received compassionate release in 2011 and 37 thus far in 2012. At 0.017 percent of the population, that’s fewer proportionally than in California. Texas is doing better, with 100 prisoners last year…
View original post 142 more words