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Oscar-Nominated Documentary Looks At Prison Hospice

"Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" tells the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner. (HBO)
"Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" tells the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner. (HBO)

Up for an Oscar in the “Best Documentary (Short Subject)” category next month is HBO’s “ Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.” The film looks at the hospice program at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Funded by contributions and staffed by inmates, the hospice cares for prisoners serving life sentences whose health is failing.

“They’re not going to get medical parole,” director Edgar Barens tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson. “Commutation is rarely used, if ever. So these guys are basically destined to die behind bars.”

Most people who die in prison die alone in their cells, in an infirmary by themselves or in a state hospital with a guard outside the door, Barens says.

“I know that a lot of people think that is exactly what they deserve,” he says “But I think as a society we have to be better than they were when they committed their crime and we have to show more compassion and more dignity while they’re dying.”

[Youtube]

Guest

  • Edgar Barens, director, producer and photographer. His latest documentary is “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.” He tweets @prisonterminal.

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