Dying inmates in NY struggle to get home
Over the last four decades, we’ve seen the number of men and women behind bars soar–many serving long mandatory sentences for low-level crimes.
And one side-effect of those tough-on-crime policies today is that the number of elderly inmates is surging–growing by almost eighty percent from 2000 through 2009.
Prison officials across the US are struggling to sort out what that means, how we think about and care for inmates who grow old and die in our prisons.
In part one of our investigative report, Natasha Haverty found that despite recent reforms to the system, many terminally ill inmates are forced to remain behind bars even when they no longer appear to be a threat to society. Even some prison officials think the process for allowing inmates to die at home needs fixing.
When I met Daryl Bidding in his room, the first thing I noticed was how small he looked, lying there in his bed.
“I’m a pretty strong willed person. You know, I don’t want to believe I’m going to die. I don’t want to believe I’m going to pass away. I want to be strong.”
Earlier this year, Daryl turned 58. He was sent to Coxsackie, one of New York’s maximum-security prisons, on a drug possession charge.
Eleven days after he arrived, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I feel like my insides are going to burst,” he said. “I feel like this thing’s gonna bust. It feels like the size of a grapefruit or something. It’s hot. It gets hot. And it’s agonizing because it’s not going away.”
From the moment doctors told Daryl there was nothing they could do for the tumor on his liver, his family starting working to get him out of prison and back home…..