Provide Terminally Ill Inmates with Adequate Treatment Options


Target: Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles Samuels, Jr.

Goal: Urge prisons to provide fair medical treatment to terminally ill inmates.

Not long ago, more than 30,000 inmates filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Arizona, claiming that they were denied medical care while imprisoned. According to the lawsuit, they were denied treatment and their requests to see medical staff were ignored.

Inmates with terminal illnesses are not given adequate treatment options. Acquiring emergency pain medication can take up to several weeks once a request is submitted. Many sick inmates die prematurely due to the lack of care shown by prison staff.

Much like the outside world, the prison population is composed of both healthy and sick people. Not only do terminally ill prisoners have to endure the constant battles that come with prison life, but they also face daily bouts of extreme pain along with the other physical side effects that accompany illnesses like cancer.

While criminals are imprisoned for a reason and they may be deserving of their punishment, at the very least they should receive the care they need to hold on to the last bit of life they have left. Sign the petition below to urge prisons to provide sufficient care to dying prisoners who are already repaying their debt to society.


Dear Director Charles Samuels, Jr.,

Prisons are obviously not meant to be accommodating–if they were, they wouldn’t really serve much of a purpose in our society. While prisons may play a large role in punishing deserving criminals, prison staff should still be required to show a certain level of respect for humanity.

Inmates who are serving time for crimes they’ve been convicted of are no more deserving of being denied access to health care than anyone else. They should be able to request and receive the medication necessary to alleviate the pain associated with illnesses like cancer and treatments like chemotherapy. The mere thought of dying in prison is daunting in itself, but it is the reality for inmates who have been given lengthy sentences.

While the compassionate release program was designed to release inmates who don’t have much time left to live, many inmates die before their requests are ever seen or approved. Despite their faults which landed them in prison in the first place, these are still living and breathing human beings.

I urge you to require that terminally ill inmates with very little time left are able to meet with medical staff, request pain medication and receive a response to their requests in a timely manner.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Chris Miller via Flickr

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