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How many rights should a prisoner have?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Prison lost dying inmate's parole requests
Wednesday, September 10, 2003 Posted: 10:36 AM EDT (1436 GMT)

HELENA, Montana (AP) -- Montana State Prison officials misplaced a dying inmate's request for medical parole, a yearlong oversight that left Roy Link behind bars where his medical costs have mounted.

Although the prison's medical director said Link should be considered for early release due to his failing health, that recommendation never made it to the desk of Warden Mike Mahoney or the state Board of Pardons and Parole for review, said Cheryl Bolton, Mahoney's administrative officer.

Prison officials have since changed the way they handle inmates' requests for early release due to medical condition, hoping to prevent such applications from getting lost or forgotten.

Cathy Redfern, administrator of health services at the prison, said a new form for processing and tracking medical parole requests had been in the works for about six months and was approved just days before an Associated Press story detailed Link's situation.

"The medical parole process has been a concern of ours for a while," she said.

A new application for Link has been prepared and is expected to be before the warden this week said Julie Reardon, managed care coordinator for the Corrections Department. If approved, the Board of Pardons could act as early as its October meeting.

Confined to bed
Link, serving a 25-year sentence for helping his sister murder their stepfather in 1996, submitted his request for medical parole in early August 2002. It got lost in the prison's bureaucratic system.



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"Did we lose it? Did someone mess up in following through on the process? I don't know," said Linda Moodry, prison spokeswoman.

As a result, the Board of Pardons never had the chance to decide if Link should be released before his normal parole eligibility date of December 2005.

In a letter to The Associated Press, Link, 63, said he wants to be paroled because he is terminally ill and can barely function. "I have been mostly confined to my bed due to pain and weakness, and am not able to perform the tasks of daily living," he wrote. "Taking a shower can be all the activity I can handle, sometimes for several days."

He was diagnosed by Dr. Liz Rantz, prison medical director, as having heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and severe back pain. Link also claimed to have nerve damage, degenerative bone disease, arthritis and migraine headaches related to his military career. He has had four heart surgeries since his first heart attack in 1983.

Minimal risk
Joe Williams, head of the Centralized Services Division in the Corrections Department, said the prison has spent $14,200 on Link's medical care in the 32 months he has been an inmate.

In a May 2002 letter to Rasha Krishna, another prison physician, Dr. Alan Gabster of Missoula said Link should be freed because "his further life expectancy is extremely limited and the risk he poses, because of his physical disability, would seem to be somewhat minimal."

Link's request for medical parole went to the warden's office in early August 2002 and was routinely referred to the medical staff for review.

Rantz, in a memo about two weeks later, said, "I would request that his medical condition be taken into consideration and that his parole eligibility be reassessed."

Bolton said Warden Mahoney never received Rantz's recommendation. Link, after not getting a response to his request, sent another copy of the application to Bill Slaughter, Corrections Department director.

Bolton said that was returned to the prison to go through the proper channels. But, like Link's first request, that too cannot be found.

I think there are a couple issues here, the immate whose request was lost, and the fact that you can request to get out of jail early due to poor health. Up until I read this article, I had never thought much about immates getting out early due to poor health. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think for me personally, part of it depends on the crime, and how bad it was. I don't think someone who has murdered a child should be let out early to live out their last days in some sort of comfort.
post #2 of 19
In some instances, letting them out early is a cost-saving measure. The prison system is required to provide medical care and a lot of older prisoners have multiple severe medical problems. In most states, as well as the Federal system, early parole to an indigent health-care facility is recommended. It is cheaper than keeping them in the prison's hospital ward and if the prisoner is old and ill, he's really not a threat to anyone.

In general, I feel that most convicts should get the proverbial "three hots and a cot", basic medical care and be made to work for their keep.
post #3 of 19
He's in for murder right? No he has no rights.
post #4 of 19
3 meals of bread and butter, a pot to p*** in and a cot. That's all they should get. Some prisoners get better than I, and I'm a free woman.
post #5 of 19
I concur!
post #6 of 19
Do you concur?! LMAO! sorry that line was on that movie Catch Me If You Can. I think prisoners (murders/rapists) have more rights than we do. This is why I never pursued law school because the criminals, based on a gramatical error could get out or on good behavior or if the prisons are overcrowded or if the jury did not have all the info they needed to convict someone and put them away. The whole things sickens me. A few years back, a rapist and serial murderer, got out on good behavior, and he was caught a few days later doing the same thing he went to prison for in the beginning, raping someone and in the act of butchering! All on f*****g good behavior!
post #7 of 19
I have not one shred of sympathy for this guy. He's a murderer. That changes neither with time, nor the condition of his health. He gets zero rights in my book.
post #8 of 19
I agree with everyone here. Prisoners should get food, clothes, basic medical care, and shelter. That's it. No college. No weight training. No movies. They are there to be punished because they chose to do something illegal.
post #9 of 19
Oh, to add one more thing they should get...

Manual Labor. No road-side chain-gang, but I like the License Plate thing. Make them work for their food and shelter. I have to.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
what always gets me is when you hear of some prisoner suing because his basic rights are being violated because his food wasn't warm enough, he doesn't get cable tv, or some nonsense like that.
post #11 of 19
There was a story in my local paper recently about inmates resenting the switch to the old fashioned striped jumpsuits. "It makes me feel bad..." was one memorable comment. My response? Tough sh!t. I do think that if we lightened or eradicated prison terms for certain things we would have more room for the real bad guys, and the public at large would have a whole lot less sympathy knowing it's murderer/rapist/big time drug dealer types behind bars.
Sorry folks, I know I'm awfully opinionated for a newbie.
post #12 of 19
Prison is meant to be a punishment, so it need not resemble summer camp or a 4-star hotel.

Having said that, I think it is also important to realise not all prisoners serve lifetime sentences.
Sooner or later most of them get out.
If they have been treated like animals, how on earth can you expect them to behave and function like human beings after their return to civilization?
post #13 of 19
They have cable for petes sake!! it shoulden't be allowed
some of them live better than we do
post #14 of 19
This is a bit of an iffie one really. You go to prison AS punishment not FOR punishment. Having said that I dont believe in early release - we have an odd system over here where you only serve 2/3rd of your sentence anyway. Life should MEAN life and not say 8/10 years. I dont believe in the death sentence whatever the circumstance as I dont think the state has a right to murder in my name! As someone else remarked if we treat prisoners brutally how can we expect civilised people to emerge from prison? More basic education in prison please-if the state fails to educate..........
thats my rant anyway for what its worth.
post #15 of 19
i have to agree with what a majority are saying here; it's sickening that criminals civil liberties are watched and protected more closely than mine and some of them get a lot more than i do, and i have to work for what i have! just p!sses me off! and how is prison to be a deterent for crime if you can go and not have to do much of anything and still have cable?!!
post #16 of 19
People seem to have forgotten that prison is supposed to be punishment, for bad behavior. The words penal and penitentiary come from a root word for punishment.

Look at the Manson "family" - they actually IMPROVED their standard of living, by going to prison.
post #17 of 19
One of the most obnoxious things I have seen on line is a website belonging to a Canadian law group opposed to the death penalty, where they give prisoners on death row in different US states their very own webspace, where this firm then posts their writings, artwork etc. Most of the ones with pages seemed to be high profile prisoners. The guy who killed Polly Klass has a page.

I absolutely do not want to turn this into a debate about the death penalty. It just surprises me that their advocacy extends to providing such a forum for these prisoners, many of whom I imagine they don't even believe are innocent of whatever they were convicted of.
post #18 of 19
I never thought of prison to be a punishment, but rather as a way of keeping dangerous people away from society so they could not do additional harm. I look at it this way.. no one in their right mind would do this crap. If they are purely evil (which no one is) shouldn't that be some sort of defense? If your child was born purely evil that wouldn't be HIS fault, it's like a mental problem. Additionally, normally functioning human beings are not gonna kill someone or rape someone or rob a bank. These people either are not in the right state of mind at the time or just are out of their minds constantly. So should they be denied their right to some semblence of a life? I don't think so.

Sure it may be called wasting tax payers money, but if you want to get into the real waste of money lets talk to our congressmen and other elected officials who perhaps SHOULD be in jail for voting for outlandish pensions and for writing off a shower curtain for a whopping $10,000. Now THAT is waste, not making someone who may be completely alone in an insitution for the rest of his life comfortable.

So in my view, jail is a place to hold people to keep society safe. I mean I don't really think it's our right to pass judgement especially when so little is understood about the human mind. Maybe it's because I'm Christian, but I think judgement is reserved for God or Karma or whatever.

I dont personally know anyone in prison, but one of my friends grew up with a boy who is currently in prison for life. Now his crime is kind of debatable, as there were so many shady areas in both the defense and the prosecution, and no one was sure what had went on, even the guy himself who had been examined by top psychiatrists. Now, in the US we have a system of being innocent until proven guilty but lets be honest, that rarely is true. We all know a ton of guilty people got to walk free and many people are given unfair trials, do to media coverage, personal prejudices, lack of money to find a decent attorney, or even just a lack of education on part of the jury.

But what I feel (which I've already said, so smack me to shut me up lol) is that people who commit henious crimes can't be in their right state, it's completely impossible, so they must have at least some sort of sickness, and no one should be punished for that.

But then I'm a very forgiving person. See, I see the light in the heavens, and whether I am making it up or not, I can sense God. I know you all are gonna think I've lost my mind, but when I close my eyes at night I do so feeling protected. If someone were to kill my mom, my child, my cat.. if someone were to god forbid commit some sort of sex crime to my child.. You know, I would be mad, I would be angry.. but I would never wish anyone dead. Life is so fleeting. I would never want to die harboring resentment, or die knowing that I hated someone, or die wishing that someone else was in misery. I couldn't meet my maker like that. I would cry, I may throw stuff, and eventually I would forgive. And I know if there is a god that's what he would want me to do.

Someone once told me that there are always atleast two victims of a crime, the person who was injured and the person who has to live with it.

In summary (I know this is long winded but everyone has to be passionate about something, right?) I am saying that I think prisoners should be given all the rights of a free person but put away in a safe place. Why? These are our kids, our parents, our cousins in jail. These are the dark sides of us. Society created prisoners. A lot of them probably have mental illnesses, or had a mental lapse at the time of the crime. No one is evil, and anyone who wants to do such evil crimes is unhealthy mentally. Many crimes happen under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Society supports these drugs while congressmen get up to 8 million dollars in retirement. George Bush is taking money out of drug recovery programs. Who knows whose kid will be strung out and shoot someone because of poor parental influences. Who knows who was abused as a child and held it in for 20 years..?

But we do know this. We are normal. If someone messed with us we'd either confront them civilly or walk away. But someone out there may want to shoot them. Is that normal? Is that healthy? Who are we to say. Who are we to pass judgement..?

OK so I may babble a bit. Sorry I know a lot of you may be mad at my views but it's just my opinion and I respect all of yours. For some reason I just can't be silent about this.. So please don't be mad at me!!
post #19 of 19
I have to go with the majority here. When you break the law, especially by taking another life, you forfeit your own rights. That is how our system works.

Prison is meant to be a punishment. Yes, it does remove them from our society, but if that were the true reason behind it every criminal would get life, period. The idea of imprisonment is older than dirt, but the American ideas were put in place by the Puritans. Imprisonment was a punishment, where they were removed from society to think and pray on their evil deeds. (Of course these were the same people who burned witches, so take that for what you will. ) The idea of rehabilitation in prison is a fairly new concept in justice, and not something that our system is set up to deal with - so they end up doing a half @ssed job and we just end up with smarter criminals when they are released early because we are putting the small time criminals in with the big criminals, and just like the movie Blow showed, it ends up being a crime school for many of them. Sad thing is, prison really is a step up in the world for many of the people in there. And they can still get their drugs and sex, they just don't have to worry about finding a job or if the will be evicted or have the electricity turned off.
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