A dying HIV-positive inmate in Florida has officially moved from a secure wing in a Miami hospital to a hospice facility. Betsie Gallardo was provided a conditional medical release in a special meeting of the Florida Parole Commission Wednesday.
On late Thursday night, Gallardo was moved to a Miami area hospice.
Gallardo’s mother Jessica Bussert provides the following update:
Late last night Betsie Gallardo was released from the prison hospital ward where she had been held for the last week. Wearing street clothes provided by her mother, Betsie was wheeled outside to a waiting car and was finally able to leave behind the shackles, guards, and bars that had been her existence for the last 13 months.
Betsie traveled to a Miami hospice where she will remain until she can be transferred back to Indiana. She is in great spirits, but exhausted from her illness and her recent ordeals.
The 27-year-old was convicted of assaulting a police officer, although questions about the assault remain. Some say she spit at the officer, others say she bit the officer. Either way, she faced a felony charge over the incident because she was HIV-positive.
She was sentenced to five years in prison, and in early 2010 was diagnosed with stage-four gall bladder cancer. While she received treatment for the cancer in prison, the cancer spread to other organs, including her intestines. In the intestines, the cancer created an inoperable tumor which blocked off the intestines, making it impossible for her to hold food or water down.
Bussert, of Indiana, drove down to be with her daughter before Christmas, and was horrified to find she was not receiving nutrition via I.V. She began lobbying for help, and on Christmas Eve a group of Florida lawmakers sent a letter to the Florida Parole Commission seeking an emergency hearing for Gallardo. Shortly after that, the commission announced that it would review her case in February, then changed the meeting to Jan. 5. The commission voted two to one to grant Gallardo a conditional medical release.