Sunday, June 2, 2013
Older Hospice Prisoners: Compassionate Release or Life in Prison? (Video 4:51)
As many as 3,300 inmates in the U.S. die in prison every year. 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.
Compassionate release is a legal system that gives inmates early release from prison sentences based on medical or humanitarian changes in the prisoner's situation. Compassionate release procedures can be mandated by the courts or by internal corrections authorities.
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?
This video explains the compassionate release program and features experiences of dying prisoners and hospice inmates who care for them.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at many booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble .