End-of-Life Midwives Within the Prison System
CEOLC Secretary & Co-Founder | End of Life Midwife | Certified by The Conscious Dying Institute, Denver Hospice
I have been thinking about prison. Not that I have any plans to end up there. Just sayin’. But my Master’s degree is in criminology,* which explains why my mind often focuses on steely, slimy, uncomfortable topics…like prison. If you have never been to a prison, count yourself as lucky. They are no place you want to call home, and no place you want to visit a loved one. They must be especially horrible during this pandemic. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be caged and in a situation where you have absolutely no control over whether you will catch, and perhaps die, of the virus.
Reagan’s three strikes you’re out edict, mandating life sentences for offenders who are convicted three times, means that our prison population is aging. More and more prisoners are dying of ailments related to longevity. But prisons are not set up to be hospitals for masses of patients. And prisons have limited resources to support prisoners who are dying. In July, more than 42,000 US prisoners had tested positive for coronavirus—more than five times higher than the rate for the general population!
So…where am I going with this? As an end-of-life midwife, I long for the opportunity to work with the prison population. These are isolated men and women who are as frightened by death and dying as any other human being. But they have nobody to hold them, to spend time with them, treating them as individuals who need to be seen as they move toward the finish line. I doubt that prisons are in a position to consider the use of end-of-life midwives now…as they are struggling to simply stay afloat…but perhaps, in the future, those of us who are invested in this particular population could find a way to work within the prisons doing what we are trained to do…accompany the dying, whoever they are and wherever they are.
*Criminologists are not law enforcement officers. Criminologists study crime causes, patterns etc.