In a fascinating article written by the news agency, Associated Press, and posted on various US news websites, including Kentucky.com, the innovative program is described in detail.
Based at the Wabash Valley Correctional Institute in Carlisle, the idea came from a prisoner who had watched his friend die of lung cancer in 2009 without a single outside visitor.
According to the article, inmate volunteers have cared for 50 convicts in their final days over the past three years and Marla Gadberry, a health coordinator at the prison, has seen effects first hand:
“They forge some pretty close relationships with their patients … and when the patient passes on, there can be a quite a bit of grief,” she said.
The article recognises an aging inmate population is a nationwide problem.
A 2012 American Civil Liberties Union report estimates about 246,000 of the nation’s 3 million inmates are aged 50 or older. In Indiana, 13.5% of state and federal inmates are older than 50.
The article concludes by highlighting the case study of Bryon Bradley, 43, who shot his wife, Nancy Bradley, 39, in January 2009 in front of her 16-year-old son. He is one of the inmates providing care to those prisoners at the end of their lives.
Bradley says guilt and redemption is what motivated him to become a caregiver: “I struggle with my past every day. I can’t forgive myself for the things I’ve done.”
You can catch international experts discussing palliative care in prisons on the #hpm global Tweetchat at 12 noon GMT on 23 September 2013.