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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Should Hospice Prison Inmates Be Released Early? (Video 1:56)

Quality end-of-life care in prison continues to grow as more prisons establish hospice programs, particularly for an aging prison population. Inmate hospice volunteers play an important role. If a terminally ill patient is in prison, attentive caregiving can be especially beneficial when given by familiar faces of those who have also experienced the prison system.

Controversial discussions continue to surround the topic of early release options for older adult inmates who are infirm and ill. Referred to as “compassionate release” and “medical parole,” supporters feel that placing these inmates in private medical facilities would be more cost effective for the prison system, especially for prisoners serving life terms and no longer considered a danger to society. Others who support victims of heinous crimes are adamant that prisoners should serve their life terms in prison regardless of their age and severity of their illness. What do you think?

Note: Grace Before Dying by Lori Waselchuk is an award-winning photographic documentary that chronicles the prison-run hospice at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana. She photographed the picture of the two men above. Read more about her work here.

This video presents the pros and cons of early release of aging, infirm, and ill inmates who are housed at the California Medical Facility where a hospice unit currently provides end-of-life care. 



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