Get sick prison poet Joe Hopkins the care he needs

Get sick prison poet Joe Hopkins the care he needs

173 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
Petition to
Secretary of Corrections, Florida Ricky Dixon

Why this petition matters

Started by Stephen Shenfield

My friend Joe R. Hopkins, 67, a poet and writer, serving a life sentence in the Florida prison system, is very sick with cirrhosis of the liver. He is currently at Calhoun Correctional Institution (Blountstown), a dangerous place ill suited to a man of his age and poor state of health.

At the beginning of 2021 Joe applied for 'elderly transfer' to Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, which is equipped to give him the care and protection he needs. The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) approved the transfer, thereby acknowledging that he was not suitably placed. Almost a year later the transfer has still not been carried out and no date for it has been set. Please support my petition to transfer Mr. Hopkins to Zephyrhills CI without further delay.

Some people question whether a 'criminal' deserves humane treatment. 31 years ago Joe Hopkins, desperate for money to feed his drug habit, took part in robbing a house. It was very wrong of him to do this. However, in imposing a life sentence the judge failed to take proper account of two mitigating circumstances. 

First, Joe was abandoned in early childhood by his parents and left in the care of his grandmother and her husband, who found it so hard to cope with him that they put him in a mental hospital. Joe describes here his two years there. The abuse he suffered in that institution filled him with hatred and distrust of the world. 

Second, while Joe did help to rob the couple who lived in the house, at the same time he protected them from harm at the hands of his violent confederate, who ended up with a lighter sentence than Joe's. 

Over the three decades that have passed since then, Joe has expanded his knowledge, cultivated his talents, and forged a new personality. He now looks back on his former self with shame and revulsion. He has achieved all this, with some help from friends on the outside, not thanks to but rather despite being in prison, which is an unimaginably corrupting, demoralizing, and brutalizing environment. And I want to mention Joe's intervention to prevent the gang rape of a young fellow prisoner -- an act of heroism that landed him in the hospital.

So even if you happen to be one of those who believe in punishment, I hope you will agree that Joe Hopkins has been punished enough and deserves considerate and respectful treatment in what remains of his life.

For a fuller account of Joe's medical situation go here. And here are a few of his poems. 

173 have signed. Let’s get to 200!