The system failed Mr. and Mrs. Glen Anderson. Not once. Not twice. But over and over again!
Matt and I became very close to this story, because while Glen was writing letters to Matt, I was chatting by phone with Susan.
Here’s the situation.
-Glen struggled with alcohol problems for years, and even went to prison for driving while intoxicated.
-He was diagnosed in 2013 with liver cancer, and a transplant could have saved his life. But he says he started drinking again, and that erased his name from the waiting list.
-Then got arrested again. He went back to prison again in 2015.
And that’s when the questions first arise. When a judge was fully aware that Glen had terminal cancer, why send him to prison for 3 to 7 and a half years? That, in effect, was a death sentence!
Glen’s treatments continued on and off, but a prison doctor finally explained to him that there was no chance for recovery and his days were numbered.
He wouldn’t qualify for parole until next March, but as he told Matt in his letter, I just want to be with my wife and kids before my time comes. Armed with medical evidence, he asked the Parole Board to recommend that the Governor commute his sentence.
On February 13 the Parole Board simply advised him that it had “no interest.”
In desperation, his wife Sue appealed to the Governor’s office. Glen received a letter from the Governor’s legal counsel dated April 12, denying the request. Obviously no one had even looked at his medical records. Here the man was at death’s door step, and the attorney reminded him that he could apply again in two years!
Sue and Glen appealed to HFP. When we receive calls like this, our first task is to verify the medical situation. A fine oncologist on the HFP advisory team quickly responded, saying he wasn’t going to last long.
And he didn’t. Prison healthcare officials in Adrian transferred him to a hospital in Jackson last weekend. Meanwhile, HFP decided to attempt a Hail Mary pass and go straight to the front office of the MDOC the very first thing Monday morning.
While his wife, his 95 year old mother and his sister were sitting in the hospital waiting room, hoping to make one last bedside visit, they were informed of Glenn’s death.
It’s our position the system failed. A 60-year-old man, serving a sentence for a non-violent crime, who is dying of cancer, and he cannot get a compassionate release? He’s considered a threat to society? Come on.
A department spokesman would only tell me: Medical commutations are rare, regardless of the offense type.
Sue tried, Glen tried, HFP tried. I’m so sorry.
Our condolences to the family. The State of Michigan can do better than this.