What if an Inmate Becomes Terminally Ill?

You were handling your husband’s incarceration by visiting once a month, writing constantly, and hearing him out during phone calls. Recently he was declared terminally ill, and all you want now is to spend his last few months with him, and you’re hoping he can pass surrounded by family. In some states this is becoming increasingly possible.

What Terminal Means

A terminal illness is a sickness that won’t allow your husband to recover, and it will ultimately put an end to his life.

Outside of prison, people can be declared terminally ill even if they are going to live for a few more years, but in many states, for an inmate to be declared terminally ill, it must be expected that he only have six months left to live.

Video: California Medical Facility

Why and How He Would Be Allowed to Go Home

Most states that have started letting these inmates go home are doing so to save on expenses. The cost of caring for terminally ill patients is enormous and only increases until the end of life.

Some states require a pardon from the governor or Board of Pardons and Parole. Others have a court process to go through before the terminally ill inmate can go home.

In all cases, once released, the inmates’ medical care ceases to be the prisons’ responsibility. Authorities must be assured that the inmate has family members who can take care of him or a Hospice facility that will accept him.

Steps to Take to Make it Happen

In most cases, the terminally ill inmate or his family must request a release and go through the process required to get it done.

You can start by calling the prison or the Board of Pardons and Parole in your state to find out the exact requirements for your state.

Final Thought:  If your husband is a federal inmate, unfortunately, the only way it can be done is through a presidential pardon.

Check out: Amnesty International’s appeals for one man’s release.

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.