A Law Was Meant to Free Sick or Aging Inmates. Instead, Some Are Left to Die in Prison.

by | Feb 21, 2023 | Health

Jimmy Dee Stout was serving time on drug charges when he got grim news early last year.

Doctors told Stout, now 62, the sharp pain and congestion in his chest were caused by stage 4 lung cancer, a terminal condition.

“I’m holding on, but I would like to die at home,” he told the courts in a request last September for compassionate release after serving about half of his nearly 15-year sentence.

A federal compassionate release law allows imprisoned people to be freed early for “extraordinary and compelling reasons,” like terminal illness or old age.

Stout worried, because covid-19 had swept through prisons nationwide, and he feared catching it would speed his death. He was bedridden most days and used a wheelchair because he was unable to walk. But his request — to die surrounded by loved ones, including two daughters he raised as a single father — faced long odds.

More than four years ago, former President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill meant to help free people in federal prisons who are terminally ill or aging and who pose little or no threat to public safety. Supporters predicted the law would save taxpayers money and reverse decades of tough-on-crime policies that drove incarceration rates in the U.S. to among the highest in the world.

But data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows judges rejected more than 80% of compassionate release requests filed from October 2019 through September 2022.

Judges made rulings without …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This