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Dying In Prison

"Compassionate release" of our sickest and oldest prisoners is a way to reduce the federal prison population. It's also meant to save on the high cost of health care for aging inmates, and show some -  well, compassion, to prisoners closing in on the end of their lives. 

Yet, the Bureau of Prisons approves few of the thousands of applications they receive from inmates - even with bipartisan support in Congress, and regardless of recommendations from prison doctors, counselors, and wardens recommend release. As a result, hundreds die in jail awaiting approval, many of them incarcerated for non-violent offenses. 

We also talk about a provocative alternative to compassionate release in Connecticut. 


  • Christie Thompson - Staff writer for The Marshall Project.
  • Kim Heraldez - Kim’s father died in prison while awaiting release  
  • Denise Littleford - Denise’s brother died in prison while awaiting approval of his application
  • Mike Lawlor - Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, Connecticut office of Policy and Management.
  • Richard Sparaco - Executive Director of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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