First it was David’s parents (See blog post dated “The system needs a heart” dated April 18).
Now it’s Terry’s brother.
His message to me:
My question is, why wasn’t the family notified that my sister was in such poor health and on her deathbed? When I called the prison to see when I could visit, I was informed that if a prisoner was that sick, they would have been transferred to a hospital and no longer be in the prison infirmary. Also, was told I could not visit until Friday, June 1. Unfortunately, my sister passed away on Tuesday, May 29, the day I called. I had wanted to visit her that day. I’m sure the medical personnel were aware of her condition. I can’t believe the prison system would not want family to visit a dying inmate. That is just so inhumane. Can you tell me if this is normal protocol for prisons? I’m just heartbroken that I was not allowed to see her before she passed.
The sad story of Terry’s death is related in our previous blog, posted just prior to this one. Take a moment to go back and read it.
In our June newsletter, the HFP COMMUNICATOR, a front-page article explains how we are asking the Michigan Department of Corrections to modify its position on visits for prisoners in private hospitals. We cited the case where David’s parents traveled all the way to the U.P. to visit their son, in a coma and on a ventilator. Their visits were terminated a couple days later when a physician detected some movement, and made the determination that death was no longer imminent. Three days later David died. Alone.
It appears we’re going to have to modify our request. It was our belief that the department was already working on improving its policy for bedside visits for dying inmates still in prison. Over the years we’ve received complaints from family members who said they were not permitted to have a final visit with a loved one before he or she died in prison. Terry’s brother will testify that such change hasn’t happened yet.
What kind of person does the state have answering a phone who can simplistically conclude that “if she were that sick she’d be in a hospital,” and then deny a family visit for that day?
Change must happen, and the time is now. Gotta quit behaving like Congress with “thoughts and prayers,” but no action.
The department can and must do better.