Monday, July 24, 2023

Compassionate release from jail or euthanasia?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Avis Favaro, the CTV News Medical Correspondent, reported that Ed Speidel, who who was rejected by the parole board for a compassionate release so that he can die in a half-way house rather than jail, is now seeking death by (MAiD) euthanasia. Favaro reported:
"My biggest fear is dying in jail. I don’t want to die in jail," said Speidel in a phone interview with CTV News from an office in the Matsqui Institution, a medium-security prison in Abbotsford, B.C.
Favaro explains that Speidel is living with end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) along with chronic pain and rheumatoid arthritis. According to tests Speidel has less than 20% lung function. Favaro reports:
He requires oxygen 24 hours a day. Yet just prior to his phone interview with CTV, he said he had to struggle to get staff to provide him with a portable oxygen unit to make the trip to the room where the interview would take place.

Speidel, who uses a walker and spends most of his time in his cell, says he is in no way a threat to the public.

"(I did) robberies. But I didn't hurt anyone," he said. "I have done 41 years. I’ve done my time. Nothing is being served by keeping me here."
Speidel received a letter from the doctor at the institution recommending compassionate release and his lawyer asked the parole board to expedite their decision. On July 8 the parole board rejected an expedited hearing.

Lisa Crossley, the lawyer for Speidel, told CTV News that her client is terminally ill and doesn't pose a risk to society. Crossley said that this is the first case of its kind in the country.

Ivan Zinger, the correctional investigator of Canada told CTV News that a 2019 review created concern. Favaro reported Zinger as saying:
"We saw an inordinate amount of prisoners who were either terminally ill or had dementia or Alzheimer's, who had severe mobility restrictions, who were bedridden. And all these individuals, you scratch your head, saying, 'What are they doing in a prison setting?'" he said in an interview from his office in Ottawa, Ont.

"Prisons and penitentiaries were never designed to be nursing homes or long-term care facilities or hospices. And this is what they've turned out to be. And it's just not acceptable," Zinger added.
Favaro ends the report by stating:
With no indication he will get out any time soon, Speidel has applied for medical assistance in dying (MAID), and is awaiting a medical assessment. The process usually takes three months or less.

He says he'd much prefer dying a natural death in a supervised halfway house. But his next regular parole hearing could be in 2024.

"What it looks like is that it's easier to kill myself here, with their (medical) help, than it is to try and convince them to let me back out. And I don't understand why," Speidel said.
A previous CTV News report indicated that the rate of euthanasia among inmates in Canada is increasing. 

Inmates who are dying and who are not a threat to the public safety of others should be provided a place to die, whether that be a half-way house/hospice setting or a secure location where they can receive visitors.

Nonetheless, the concept of inmates "freely choosing" to die by euthanasia is an oxymoron at best.

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