Frederick Bardell Wrongly Denied Cancer Treatment By Prison System, Judge Says

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The Justice Department launched an internal investigation into the Bureau of Prisons after a federal judge issued a scathing court order saying the agency “should be deeply ashamed” for what he called “its demonstrated contempt for the safety and dignity of human lives in its care.”

A ruling issued last week by U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. dismisses the agency’s handling of the case of Frederick Mervin Bardell, 54, who died last year of colon cancer. The judge said the Bureau of Prisons repeatedly fought Bardell’s efforts for compassionate release and specialized treatment and, in his final days, left him outside an airport, extremely weak and seriously ill and in need of medical treatment. ‘assistance. to return to his family.

“The treatment Mr. Bardell received in the last days of his life is inconsistent with the moral values ​​of a civilized society and unworthy of the Department of Justice of the United States of America,” the judge wrote, accusing the Bureau of Prisons ignoring explicit court orders and asking the Department of Justice to investigate.

On Friday, the Department of Justice Inspector General’s Office announced that it was opening an investigation into the case.

Bardell had served most of a 12-year sentence for distributing child pornography when, in late 2020, he sought compassionate release from a prison in Seagoville, Texas, to receive specialized cancer treatment. of the colon. Lawyers for the Justice Department have opposed his release, saying he may receive adequate treatment in prison and suggesting he may not have cancer, according to court documents.

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Months later, Bardell was much sicker and again asked Dalton, an Orlando-based federal judge who presided over Bardell’s sentencing, to release him for medical treatment. This time the judge agreed and ordered the Bureau of Prisons to create a release plan. Instead, according to the judge, the Bureau of Prisons dumped Bardell on the sidewalk at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

His parents paid for a plane ticket home, but Bardell, “who had a tumor protruding from his stomach and was visibly weak and bleeding, unsurprisingly soiled himself during this not-so-good trip,” wrote the judge.

During the trip, Bardell leaned on another passenger to help him off the first leg of the trip, Dalton wrote. “Once Mr Bardell’s parents found their son and tried to get him into the car, his father had to take off his own shirt and put it in the driver’s seat. [his lawyer’s] car to absorb blood and feces,” the judge noted.

Bardell’s parents drove him straight to hospital, where the former prisoner died nine days later, according to the judge’s opinion. He noted that a doctor estimated Bardell would have had a 71% chance of survival had he been diagnosed and treated earlier.

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As part of his contempt decision, Dalton ordered the Bureau of Prisons to reimburse Bardell’s parents for the cost of the flight and to pay approximately $200,000 for the costs of an attorney appointed to review Bardell’s treatment. “These consequences,” the judge wrote, “are, unfortunately, wholly inadequate to address Mr. Bardell’s callous disregard.” He ordered the agency to pay the family by Monday.

Dalton wrote: that he hoped the case would “illuminate the BOP’s arrogant – and totally misguided – idea that it is beyond reproach and within reach of the Court. … This Court will do everything in its power to ensure that that the BOP be held accountable for its blatant disregard for the safety and dignity of human lives in its care.

Colette Peters, the director of the Bureau of Prisons, said in a statement that “my heart goes out to the family of Mr. Bardell, to whom I send my deepest condolences. The humane treatment of men and women detained by the Bureau of Prisons is a top priority. In cases where we have failed to maintain our mission, we take action to find out what happened, how it happened, and how we can prevent it from happening again in the future.

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