Letters about Elena Delle Donne and Delaware Prison Healthcare

On Elena

I just read Bob Yearick’s piece (“Shooting Stars,” September 2012 issue) about Elena Delle Donne and Tina Martin.

Wow! What a great story. I loved hearing about the “lack of pressure” by Coach Martin. What a classy coach. Not sure I would have liked the 2 a.m. wake-up call, but a great story!

George Fiorile
Vice President and General Manager Hotel Operations, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino

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On Inmate Health Care

As a victim of a violent crime in Delaware, I read with interest your article in the August Delaware Today, “Who Cares,” addressing elderly and infirm inmates, and the cost to society.

I greatly appreciate the note from the Maria Hess, the editor, stating you are sensitive to the victims and victims’ families, and your article in no way diminished their suffering. As a victim, it is nice to be remembered. That doesn’t happen much in the state of Delaware.

For the most part I found your article quite balanced. It was fair and impartial, with no inflection of the reporter’s personal feelings or anyone’s political agenda. Just the facts and the debate. Kudos to you for your care and integrity in printing this impartial yet sensitive article. However, I do have a few comments.

I believe it was a disservice to the reader not to print the offender’s crime. I would have liked to have known the crime committed by all offenders and former offenders interviewed, including the original offender who contacted Delaware Today. As a victim who went public last year to protect an “independent” Board of Parole, I have learned that the general public is blissfully unaware of how DOC works, unless they have personal knowledge of the justice system and DOC, and believe that someone sentenced to a life sentence will actually be incarcerated for life. I fear your article may have generated a lot of uninformed compassion, as most readers would not believe DOC would grant early release of any kind, for any reason, to violent offenders. I believe an offender who has served 20 years for drugs would be shown more compassion than an offender who attempted murder. Crime, circumstance and prison behavior all play a part on the compassion spectrum.

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As a victim, I agree with Kim Book, that the victim doesn’t get an early release from their pain and experience. Victims count on the courts to provide justice, and the state to be their voice. Once the state and court have sentenced an offender, I believe their sentence should be served in its entirety. There is no good behavior or compassionate release that will undo being a victim or return life to the way it was before.

I believe the question of what happens when compassionate release results in reversing the biophysical age of an inmate should have been asked. When outside health care restores a compassionate released inmate’s health, why isn’t he then being returned to prison to finish his sentence?

It was interesting that cholesterol and high blood sugar dropped when nutritional offerings and routine care changed. If DOC is aware of what these types of changes can do, why don’t they prohibit smoking by inmates. Smoking is a proven killer, yet it is allowed outside by inmates, even though the state must pay for inmates’ care when they are diagnosed with cancer. Civil liberties might come into question, but prison should offer no comforts. This right will cost taxpayers.

The temperature issue should not even be a concern. Many people live without sufficient heat and air conditioning, yet the state is not required to make them comfortable. How many of Delaware’s elderly are on a fixed income and do without proper heat, air—and even food? The inmates in DOC get three meals a day and a roof over their heads at the taxpayers’ expense. This comparison should have been made in your article.

I wonder about the desire by the current administration to cut costs. At the beginning of 2012, Gov. Markell granted clemency to a death row inmate, regardless of the victim’s family’s desire to see Robert Gattis’ sentence of death carried out. I also understand that the “independent” Board of Parole recommended clemency be denied when the case was sent to the Board of Pardons. Yet the Board of Pardons recommended clemency and the governor granted clemency. Mr. Gattis, who is 51, is now one of the prisoners over 50. This fact of clemency should have been addressed in your article. DOC and the justice community are worried the elderly and infirm are becoming the majority of the prison population, and a great drain on DOC’s budget, yet Gov. Markell added one more to the pile. Mr. Gattis was given a death sentence, the family of his victim did not want their justice circumvented, yet the administration in Delaware knew more than the courts and the victims’ families?

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I would like to see an article about victims in Delaware and their concerns and feelings on Delaware’s stance on crime. 

Mary Faith Welch

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