Humane Prison Hospice Project is developing a humanitarian, cost-effective and restorative justice solution to ensure that those aging and dying in prison receive compassionate care.
The Humane team believes that the right to receive compassionate end-of-life care is a basic human right–one that should be extended to everyone, even some of the most wounded and troubled in our society.
At Humane, we strive for a world where all incarcerated people are treated with dignity and respect. Our model benefits not only the dying, but their fellow prisoners who provide the care, and the prison correctional staff as well, as they witness how transformative it can be for prisoners to learn to care for their dying “brothers.”
The curriculum we’ve developed trains prisoners as hospice volunteers in end-of-life care and grief support, and in other modes of crisis intervention that prepares them to support their peers who are suffering from depression, suicidal ideation, or the effects of trauma and violence often experienced behind bars.
The outcome is a therapeutic community within prison walls that results in a cultural shift toward compassion, care, empathy and support that sets the foundation for restorative justice practices. The prison environment becomes a place for rehabilitation and support rather than punishment and conflict.
“Before my cellmate of five years passed, he begged me to take care of him. So I did. I fed him. I cleaned him up. When he had to go to the hospital, he fought them. He wanted to come back. Him dying made me want to change. He was my friend. The person who took care of him, that was a good part of me.”
– Lenny, a Brothers Keeper, trained in end of life care by Humane Prison Hospice Project team