Death with dignity inside prison walls

Whats it like on the inside? There are now four prisons within the Department of Corrections in Iowa that contain hospice units. There is nothing more heart rending than to see those lifers take care of someone whos dying, said Marilyn Sales, a nurse who is the administrative advocate for the creation of this effort. She watches as prisoners sit with other prisoners, hold their hands, pray with them, write letters for them and talk to them. There is dignity in their deaths. They have been able to wash the body when their friend dies, comb their hair and make them presentable when they leave the institution. While some lifers choose to die alone, Mychael Glover will not be one of them. Mychael is a 53-year-old prisoner who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. My reality is that Im going to die here. Im not going to sugarcoat it You have to be realistic, and I want to be treated like I treat people. If you ask the average guy here, hes never seen a person die, and then if you ask a selected few, the only person they probably seen die was their victim. Mychael is one of the hospice prison volunteers. The Iowa prison hospice program is completely self-supporting. Funding comes from donations by family members on the outside, from the community and from the prisoners themselves. One of the most dependable sources of support comes from the sale of sweetened water purchased by the inmates. Victor Frankel said, We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of the human freedoms - to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way. While Mychael Glover and other prison hospice volunteers may deserve their place within secure walls and locked doors, they still have that opportunity to change how they treat one another. Its not so different on the outside. This life matters. Referrals for hospice care are given by physicians, nurses, friends, neighbors, the patient or family members. Call 1-877-324-1686 to learn more about High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care or visit our web site at www.highpeakshospice.com. Quotes taken from Prison Terminal: life and death in a prison hospice

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