I penned the entry seen below last March, after the Michigan Parole Board gave my friend Otto a flop. I had sent a letter to the board on behalf of HFP outlining all of his medical issues. In typical fashion, the board looked at the seriousness of the crime 40 years ago, but apparently failed to take a good look at an ailing patient, and a changed man.
I was saddened to hear from Otto’s widow this past week that his failing body just couldn’t take it any more.
With typical indifference, prisoners learned about his death sooner than his wife.
With typical insensitivity, he had been denied a canister of oxygen for his COPD, according to prisoners, because that was considered not unlike carrying a bomb around.
With typical inefficiency, his belongings will not be returned to his wife for about 28 days.
The good news is that Otto can breathe just fine now, and he’s without pain.
The bad news is that thousands of God’s children are still subjected to this cold-hearted treatment.
Originally Published March 9, 2013
The Pathetic Parole Board
Perhaps the single issue over which I feel strongest disagreement with the Michigan Parole Board is this whole matter of compassionate release…freeing inmates who are seriously ill.
As I write this, I’m having a little private argument with the board in my mind. Here’s why.
I’ve been talking to Otto’s wife, who has been so kind and patient. But she’s about had enough.
Otto has had triple bypass heart surgery while in prison. He has serious heart problems. Not only that, he has Hepatitis C, he can hardly breathe due to a serious case of COPD, he is diabetic and must be checked and treated several times a day. Besides that, he’s 76 years of age. An old, seriously ill inmate, who could better be treated at home.
Now one would think that this man would be a perfect candidate for release from prison. He’s a parolable lifer, so that’s not a problem. Nope. The Parole Board just gave him a flop.
And if it costs $30,000 to care for an average prisoner, you can bet that the state is paying twice that to take care of this man.
Can the board members really believe that this ailing inmate is some kind of a threat to society? He runs out of breath walking from here to the front door.
Do board members think he has not yet paid his debt to society? He has been in prison nearly 40 years!
Now you have just a glimpse at one reason why our prisons are too full, and why we’re paying more for corrections than we are higher education.
In my opinion, keeping Otto in prison is a crime.