A Husbands perspective on the First Step Act

Rex Farris is the husband of Connie Farris who is currently incarcerated in FCI Dublin for a first time offense, white collar crime. Both are in their 70’s and both have serious medical issues. If the First Step Act were to be passed, Connie could be with Rex on home confinement. The following are his thoughts:

I am so glad that something is finally being done for prison reform, and it is a first step, but for so many inmates it’s too little too late.  My wife was sentenced to 12 years.  Her health is terrible, and she will be 74 this October.  She’s applied twice for a Compassionate Release to assist a loved one who can’t take care of themselves (me).  She was approved by the commission that determines an inmates qualifications both times, but the General Counsel’s office reversed the commission’s decision and denied her release.  But they always give an excuse, probably the most used excuse that, in my wife’s case, is a 74 year old female inmate who has had 4 knee replacement surgeries, besides other life threatening medical problems, “is still a danger to the public and has not spent enough time in prison”.

Both times she was told that she would be released, and both times we were devastated when her requests for Compassionate Release were denied.  I’m 75 years old, have a form of Muscular Dystrophy that has destroyed the muscles in my upper arms, my waist, and now starting on my legs to the point that I am forced to use a cane to get around, and my doctor has told me that it won’t be long before I will confined to a wheelchair.  As if I didn’t have enough physical problems, I’ve just been evicted, and with my only income of my SS disability, there’s no way I can afford someone to help me with these problems.  This was the reason for the Compassionate Release, for Connie to help me.  So along with the damage done by having a major disease, I now have problems that I can’t solve by myself, because I don’t have the funds to hire someone to help me.

We are able to speak on the phone, but BOP limits the minutes we are allowed -300 minutes per month. Those minutes often run out before the end of the month and we are left communicating via email only. I am not able to  visit her anymore-its been a few years.  With the passage of the First Step Act, Connie would be released on home confinement most likely. But that is ok! I really need her to be here with me. We are supposed to be in our “Golden Years” but there has been nothing golden about them so far.

So, yes, please pass the First Step Act. For too many who are sick and dying in prison it may be too late and this bill probably wont help them.  Even though a Compassionate Release is approved for qualified inmates, the major qualification is that they will die within 18 months.  But even after being approved, many will die before being released, and their loved ones end up with a body bag.  So they are left with the horrific realization that the joy they may have had with their loved one, at least for a little while,  will never happen.  I don’t want that to happen to my wife and me.

Learn more about the First Step Act here

Sign Connie’s petition here

If you can help Rex out with a donation, you can donate here


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