Monday, February 15, 2010

Prison Inmate Hospice Volunteers: Iowa State Penitentiary

People are more than the worst things they ever did.

Each year, more than 3,000 men and women die in prisons. It is estimated that 20% of America’s prison population will be elderly by 2025. Many will eventually need quality end-of-life care. Some will ask, “So what? Did these prisoners treat their victims with dignity? Why be concerned about their death journeys?” One response is that people are more than the worst things they ever did. Another is that society should be held to a higher standard of treating prisoners better than they treated victims. At several prisons, inmate hospice volunteers are providing comfort to terminally ill inmates.

“Sail to Serenity” by Edgar Barens is the hospice prison program at the Iowa State Penitentiary. Some patients may no longer have attentive relationships beyond prison walls. Many serving life sentences, including some who are hospice volunteers, know they will die in confinement. Nurturing support given by familiar faces of those who have also experienced the prison system can enhance prisoners’ quality of life during the dying process. 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

1 comment:

  1. I spent the day in a prison in Nairobi, Kenya. I am here as a volunteer for Prison Fellowship Ministries,, but I did get to talk to someone about Kenya hospice.
    There is only one hospice in Nairobi, and it serves the 4 million or so folks living there. There is no federal funding, so patients have to pay what they can. Private donors cover the rest. Most patients are AIDS sufferers.