Prison hospices – Concerns quickly vanish

Volunteers of America is developing standards for the increasing number of hospice care programs in prisons, the Christian Science Monitor reported July 21.

Hospice programs are recent developments in U.S. prisons. They are the product of tougher sentencing, which produced more elderly inmates dying behind bars. There are about 20 such programs, with at least a dozen more in the planning stages.

When the idea was first proposed, many worried that inmates assigned to such programs might try to deal in contraband or solicit from the families of terminally ill patients, Madeline Ortiz, a corrections specialist with the U.S. Justice Department, told the Monitor.

Those concerns quickly vanished when it became clear that the programs brought benefits not only to patients but to the inmates caring for them.

Kyle Gray, who is serving a 30-year sentence for robbery in the Oregon State Penitentiary, said, “Before I started volunteering, I was a very selfish person. I didn’t care about anybody else or who I walked over to get what I wanted. It’s ironic… by coming out of myself, I get a lot in return.”

For full story, see the Christian Science Monitor.

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