February 19, 2013

Dying in Prison: Is there Hospice for the System Too?

Dying in Prison

With more than 2.3 million people locked up, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry.– from Billions Behind Bars (CNBC)



There is the placidity and quiet of the prison’s “hospital pod,” the companionship of fellow prisoner and caretaker, Wayne Rose, and the emaciation of the lifer, Robert Brian, the result of liver cancer. All told, however, this picture, and the rest of the Denver Post photo story, forces us: to be less abstract about terms like “life in prison,” to think a little bit more about prevention and rehabilitation, and to question whether there might somehow be a downslope to the prison industry’s own life cycle.

DP Prison Hospice slideshow here.

(photo: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post. caption: Wayne Rose, left, reaches out and touches Robert Bryan before leaving his room, November 08, 2012. “Cancer finally caught up to me,” said Bryan. “I feel good about dying. I have done lots of bad things in my life and there is nothing in this world for me anymore.” subsequent caption: Robert Bryan, in his prison bed, is dying of liver cancer, November 08, 2012. Bryan has spent most of his life behind bars. Arrested more than 50 times since he was 18 years old, his current sentence, six years, for second-degree assault, will be his last.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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