Today’s report is brought to you by the color BLUE mixed with the feeling of blue. The sadness was triggered by an essay that describes with great respect and insight the hospice work done by prison inmates for their fellow inmates who are dying.
In theory that work should be done by trained personell who have been taught to cope with the physical and psychological demands associated with being with the dying. And there are many, as I can report from my own experience as a hospice volunteer some years back. Of course the US prison system is all too glad to cover its lack of personell, and being overwhelmed with an aging prison population that has ballooned to insane numbers given the mandatory sentencing structure, by allowing inmates to do its work for free.
By the article’s reports those death-doulas do enjoy their jobs though, and feel that it has constructive effects for the long term, including during re-entry into society. I do not know if we have trustworthy statistics to back that up.
This is particularly likely given how hard it is to come by reliable numbers in prison reporting in the first place. What we do know, though (see the link below) is that most of the deaths (40%) occur before someone is convicted, and the majority of those in the week after arrest. No helpers are available for those jailed with an accusation.
I tried to find some blue colors that are reasonably cheerful so we can focus on the good parts, rather than the despair: there are people in the hardest situations, in our prison system, who are reaching out and giving comfort to others. May we all follow that example.