UPDATE: Thanks to the efforts of activists across the country, including just under 700 Change.org members, she will be able to spend her final days surrounded by her family, rather than prison guards in a Florida jail cell. After being bombarded with appeals for her release, the Florida Parole Board held an emergency session Jan. 7 where members voted to allow Betsie to receive hospice care outside the confines of a prison. And now her mother reports she's been allowed to return to the family home in Indiana.
Betsie Gallardo hasn't gotten very many breaks in life. Born into poverty in Haiti – HIV-positive – she was repeatedly raped by a local police officer until she was adopted by a Christian missionary in the country. And now the 24-year-old orphan is dying of cancer. In prison. Alone.
As Betsie's mother writes, her daughter was sentenced to five years in Florida state prison. Her crime? "Spitting on a cop while intoxicated." To be more precise, Betsie's crime was reportedly spitting on a cop while infected with HIV, which the state of Florida considers to be a weapon,” despite the fact that one cannot actually contract HIV from saliva.
Since going to prison, Betsie has developed stage 4 gallbladder cancer that has spread throughout her body. But officials at Broward Correctional Institution are refusing to allow her visits from her family. Asked if they could see her during her final moments, the prison warden responded, "absolutely not."
Betsie doesn't have much time left, and the precious moments she has left should be spent with her loved ones. Please ask that Florida Gov. Rick Scott and others on the state Executive Clemency Commission to grant her medical clemency before it's too late. Her family is also asking that she be provided IV nutrients in the meantime, so that she may live to see whether her clemency appeal is granted.
Photo Credit: Still Burning