Essential Surgery Needed; Rejected by Authorities in a Federal Correctional Institute

Butner Low

What is one to do? What can be done? Is there anything that I or his cousin Christine can do at this point? The time clock is ticking down to the last moment. Time is running out. Nothing is easy and there is no one who will listen, no person, no department, prison, or authority in the Federal Bureau of Prisons who will take action to authorize a recommended medical procedure to save his life.

The medical administrator at the prison has pretty much stated to my ex-husband, “You can’t control how your treatment is to proceed, and its timeliness. Either accept what we give you when we get around to giving it to you, or forget it.”

It may be too late now, anyway. Even if, all of a sudden, an unresponsive bureaucrat who could make a medical decision thought, “Oh My God, What have we done? We are not giving reasonable medical care to an inmate who needs it to save his life? We must act. It’s the humane thing to do. It’s the Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Unitarian thing to do.”

They would have gone on to think, “So what if he’s a shit who deserves punishment?”

In another time, other than 2005, he would have been sentenced to three to five years for his crime and not ten years. He would not have been locked up for so long a time and had his cancer ignored by those with influence to approve the recommended surgery.”

None of those people is saying anything remotely like that. Not one is articulating concern for the life of an inmate. So what if he’s 76 years old? So what if he’s been found guilty of a despicable crime? So what if his immediate family is not banging on the doors demanding action to save his life? He’s still a person, with many good qualities, even if the negative or questionable traits appear to overshadow the positive.

If one is in the prison system, there is no hope. If one lives in a Federal Correctional Institute, there is no possibility that anyone will listen to you, unless you have some sort of pull, and my former husband has only his devoted cousin to act in his interest.

It was hard to think kindly about him when his past actions were so hard on me. His family is ‘on hold’ probably caring, some more than others, some siblings not at all and no one is acting except his cousin. Few are writing, no one is calling the prison authorities and making a lot of noise about this one man, who will die if he doesn’t receive the medical care and surgery that is essential for him to live.

Now he has begun to assemble a legal team that may – or may not – be able to get a reaction from those in positions of power in the prison. Even if there is a response, it may be too late.

He is going to attempt to get help from Connecticut’s Senators and the Representative from the 4th District. It is unlikely that they are going to rush to enable a sex offender to receive fair and legally mandated treatment under the law. They certainly won’t gain votes that way. It’s better to work to curry the favor of unions, businesses, pressure groups, women, Latinos, – anyone but those found guilty of heinous crimes and rotting in prison for them.

The truth is, I don’t blame them and am, in fact, wondering about the address my former husband will use when he contacts 4th District’s Representative Jim Himes, who I heard speak this morning at my Rotary Meeting. Himes has bigger issues on his mind than the medical care for a Federal Inmate.

I thought of speaking with him after the meeting and then decided against it. What would I say? Would he be repelled by a woman he doesn’t know asking him to intervene? In his position, would there be anything he could do anyway? The Federal Bureau of Prisons appears to be an organization that doesn’t have to report to anyone.

Only fourteen more months and he is scheduled to be released. Now, let me make it clear, I do not want to have him visit me when he gets out. But I certainly do not wish him an early death due to unresponsive medical authorities who won’t grant permission for the surgery that would stop the aggressive cancer.

He’s torn up by the system he’s caught in. He’s frightened, as he faces the end of his life sooner than he would have, if he’d been on the Outside, due entirely to negligence, indifference and reluctance to act on the part of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

About writerladyjane

I'm a writer with a finished memoir, titled Images. Most of the blog posts relate to the general subject of my memoir and are about my experience of Federal Agents entering my home and arresting my then-husband for child pornography, as well as the following two years of threats on me. There are also posts that are of a lighter nature and some to do with my travels, especially a trip around the world I took with my daughter. I have an MFA in creative writing from Fairfield University and live in Westport, CT.
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5 Responses to Essential Surgery Needed; Rejected by Authorities in a Federal Correctional Institute

  1. Pat O says:

    This is not the first time I’ve heard of the Federal BOP ignoring an inmate’s medical needs. So sorry that he is going through this.

  2. Beth M. says:

    While this might not affect the immediate situation, you or the family could formulate a well written petition on in order to raise awareness.

  3. GrandmaCharityChallenge says:

    Juxtaposing your story with Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow which I’m reading is interesting. You write about the injustice of treatment for an ill white man, one specific person. She writes about the inequity of our prisons and justice system for so many black men.

  4. The average expenditure for a federal inmate is 26,000k per year. A child living in poverty can expect less than a quarte of that in support services. That is truly ironic. A child living in the middle class who needs life-saving heart surgery has no guarantee of a life saving medical procedure if the parents insurance wil not cover. Fundraisers must be had. Parent mortgage houses. Hospitals write off surgeries. People are put on waiting lists.

    Why should it be different for someone in prison?

  5. Beautiful Life, thank you for your comment. I can see your point of view. Life definitely isn’t fair but the reality is that usually we’re more concerned about someone we know well than theoretical statistics.
    Prison regulations say, in the Federal inmate booklet, under Health Care Rights, p. 31, “You have a right to receive prescribed medication and treatment in a timely manner, consistent with the recommendations of the proscribing health care provider.”
    WIthout medical attention he will die, possibly soon.
    And yes, holding prisoners and feeding them is terribly expensive. That’s a whole other issue. However, he has lost his Social Security, which he worked many years for, so is paying for his room and board in that manner. There are so many questions, so much unfairness, so much incompetence, so much waste, so much sadness with my former husband’s dire situation.

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