Demand Compassionate Clemency for Dying Prisoner in Licking, MO!
- by: Angelika M
- recipient: Missouri Governor Eric Greitens
My name is Angelika Mueller-Rowry. My husband, Robert Rowry, passed away of cancer in 2014, days after the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) denied our request for medical parole and eight weeks before his scheduled parole date.
My husband had to die in inhumane conditions, isolated from his family, shackled and chained to a hospital bed, all because MDOC refuses to follow state law (RSMo 217.250).
Now, I am trying to help another inmate, Walter Hunter, who is on his death bed and who has been denied compassionate clemency, which would allow him to live his final days among family and friends. Please sign this petition to ask Governor Greitens to grant Walter Hunter compassionate clemency.
I turned my anguish and grief over my husband's death into action, joining Missouri CURE, a non-profit prison advocacy and reform organization. As their "Prisoner Health Coordinator," I have addressed and documented cases of medical malpractice, deliberate negligence and institutional abuse committed by the state's outsourced medical provider Corizon Health, Inc. and MDOC officials ever since, now being aware of more than 200 affected prisoners, who have written to me in the past three years.
One of those prisoners is Walter Hunter, incarcerated at SCCC, Licking, MO. Walter had finally, after significant delay, received the new HEP C treatment, but tragically, much too late. Two years ago, he was given less than six months to live, which he miraculously survived. Yet, according to Corizon Health, he was already too ill for consideration of advanced treatment options (like the TIPS procedure) and, being a prisoner, he is ineligible for a liver transplant.
The MO Board of Probation and Parole denied medical parole considerations for him, indicating: "Offender Hunter is serving a life sentence for which parole eligibility is restricted by statute until March 14, 2096."
Walter is 59 years old. The MacArthur Justice Center in St. Louis (MJC-STL) has challenged the Missouri Department of Corrections’ (MDOC) denial of medical parole consideration for Walter Hunter. According to a lawsuit filed by lawyers with MJC-STL, Missouri sentencing law makes clear that any dying inmate may be considered for what is called “Medical Parole.”
Mae Quinn, Director of the MJC-STL office, stated in a press release: “It is remarkable to us that the Missouri Department of Corrections is seeking to avoid application of the law as written to cases of inmates like our client who are on death’s doorstep, in need of constant assistance, and an extreme financial burden on the prison system.”
Amy Breihan, MJC-STL Staff Attorney, added: “At a time when the Department of Corrections is actively trying to save money on things like caskets, the position of its Parole Board seems not only inhumane, but irrational.”
This lawsuit will have significance for many more of MDOCs' rapidly aging and increasingly chronically ill offender population, but it is very unlikely that Walter Hunter will live to see the outcome as his condition has dramatically deteriorated. Walter developed a mass on his liver that is suspected to be cancer, yet his treatment provider does not bother to establish a proper diagnosis. He was denied a biopsy, as well as an evaluation for the presence of metastases. Both would underscore the terminal stage of the illness.
On May 12, 2017, a Missouri Department of Corrections Contract Monitor confirmed: "Mr. Hunter is currently a permanent patient in the Infirmary and is in the end-stages of liver disease."
Walter Hunter filed a petition for Compassionate Clemency that is now in the hands of the newly elected Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.
Missouri CURE backs Walter Hunter's request, stating in a letter to Governor Greitens: "Mr. Hunter is a model prisoner who has been involved with the local prison branches of the NAACP for more than 15 years. In appreciation of his impeccable conduct, Mr. Hunter had been assigned to the privileged housing unit for the past 10 years before being enrolled in hospice care. For many years, Mr. Hunter assisted illiterate inmates with understanding institutional regulations and with articulating themselves. As a role model, Mr. Hunter has helped create a positive environment in corrections by providing other inmates with advice and guidance. Governor Greitens, Missouri CURE urges you to grant Mr. Hunter clemency so that he can die re-united with his family and in dignity."
Recently, Governor Greitens referred Walter's case back to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole. There is no reason for confidence that their statement will differ from the one quoted above: "Due to statutory requirements … you may re-apply in 2096."
Your signature, asking Governor Greitens to grant Walter Hunter Compassionate Clemency, will create the broad public support needed to make a difference for Walter and his family. It will also give other Missouri prisoners and their families who face the same predicament, hope.
This petition author has filed a civil suit against Corizon Health Inc. and MDOC pertaining to the Wrongful Death of her husband. See: ANGELIKA MUELLER V. CORIZON HEALTH INC ET AL, Case No. 16AC-CC00571
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Update #39 months ago
Dear Supporters, ONE MORE PUSH to DOUBLE our IMPACT before we hold a press conference in Jefferson City, MO, where your signatures will be submitted to Missouri Governor Greitens.
Walter Hunter passed, but the LARGER ISSUE remains: MDOC's CURRENT POLICY DENIES TERMINALLY ILL PRISONERS MEDICAL PAROLE. This is INHUMANE and VIOLATES STATE LAW. IT MUST BE CHANGED!
If EACH of you asks ONE MORE person to sign, we'll have the impressive number of 30,000 underscoring our DEMAND FOR JUSTICE! Thank you!
Update #29 months ago
Dear supporters, Walter's sister Renese wrote after he passed:
"I was touched by so many people supporting this. I was telling Walter about it and I could hear him smile. He would ask me every night how many people signed the petition and I'd give him a new number and he would say 'Really? That's amazing!' It was a great effort! I sure hope that no more families and inmates have to endure this".
Your 15,000 signatures will help to bring about CHANGE!
Update #19 months ago
Dear supporters, thank you for speaking up for humanity! We garnered the amazing number of 13,000 signatures from all over the world which we intended to personally present to Missouri Governor Greitens, hoping that our voices be heard and humanity prevail.
Our effort came too late. Walter died yesterday in the prison infirmary at Licking, MO.
Missouri CURE will nonetheless submit all your signatures to Governor Greitens, MDOC Director Ann Precythe and state legislators, demanding change!