Jack Hall 83, of Ft. Madison, Iowa, served in the United States Army as a Ranger during World War II. He was a prisoner of war for 14 months. Following the war in 1946, he was given the Key to the City of Keokuk. He had lived in various places including Arkansas and Des Moines, Iowa. He had worked as a logger, a carpenter, and production work for Swifts and Fruehauf.

 

In 1984 Jack was found guilty in the first degree for the murder he committed in 1977. At the age of 62 Jack was given a life sentence and served his time at the Iowa State Penitentiary. He was considered the oldest prisoner in the Iowa correctional system until his death at the age of 83. Jack was a devout Catholic and later became a member of the Church of New Beginnings, Keokuk, Iowa.

 

Despite being a decorated war hero, Jack was denied a military burial due to his felony conviction. Unbeknownst to Jack and his family, military burial rights were changed after veteran Timothy McVeigh bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

CAST

Marilyn Sales for over 30 years, Marilyn Sales, RN, a nurse administrator and director for the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC), has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in the Iowa Department of Corrections. Sales began her career in corrections as a forensic psychiatric nurse, helping to initiate a medical record system in the state psychiatric facility and a quality assessment system for use by night shift staff. In 1982, she became unit director for the first women's unit which housed women who failed to integrate into the women's general population.

 

In 2006, Sales started a prison hospice at the Iowa State Penitentiary, a maximum-security prison where she met with a small group of inmates in their cell house, conducting weekly interviews, before more inmates became interested. When the program first began, it was a challenge due to some resistance from the prison staff.

 

"It took me quite a while to overcome resistance to have a viable hospice in that facility," Sales said. "People don't like change." Despite resistance from some members of staff, others have donated bedding, towels, furniture and more to the hospice rooms. "Change is always disruptive but it doesn't have to be a negative. It's only a negative if you allow it to be," Sales said. These special hospice workers taught me much more than I was able to teach them. A piece of my heart will always be with those special inmates and that very special program. It was an honor to work with them.”

Bertrum R. Burkett (HERKY) 49 years old, and serving a life sentence for murder in the first degree. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, his childhood was one of stability, love, and respect. Herky’s father worked for over twenty years in the local packinghouse while his mother tended to the household. Herky was an excellent athlete and qualified to play on the varsity wrestling, basketball, and baseball teams when he was only a freshman in high school. By the 11th grade he felt he was already a man, so he dropped out of school and headed for the streets.

 

His decision to end his schooling shattered his parents. His father got him an entry-level position at the packing plant but after the first day on the job Herky quit. “I could make more money in an hour selling dope on the streets, than my Dad could make in a week at the plant.” When he entered prison as a youth, Herky quickly became known as a troublemaker; spending many months in lock down for violently attacking guards as well as other prisoners.

 

Quickly approaching 50, Herky has matured in many ways over the years. He understands that the quality of his life is dependent upon his comportment within the walls. As an honor lifer Herky has been granted a more relaxed living situation; his cell remains open from morning until night, allowing him ample time on his days off to play pinochle with his fellow prisoners and to crochet lap blankets for the hospice rooms.

 

In his 25 years of incarceration Herky has never seen anything as positive as the hospice program take hold in corrections. “Among the lifers we used to ask each other who was going to be the last one to take care of us when we start passing away?” But with the advent of hospice here in prison “we know we have some dedicated people to take care of us and even the last lifer will have somebody to take care of him now."

Michael Glover (GLOVE) 47 years old is serving a life sentence for murder in the first degree. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky Glover was number ten of thirteen siblings in a two-parent home. His father was a career military-man and his mother managed the busy household. After graduating from high school Glover attended college on a football/basketball scholarship. After suffering a football injury Glover never returned to school.

 

“You hear about these hard luck stories, about guys having a hard life on the streets and all - but I don’t have one. I was never in trouble before I came to the penitentiary.” Now with a quarter under his belt and the rest of his life to go, Glover takes it one day at a time. “When you find yourself doing a life sentence, the thought of your death comes to mind. So when the prison administration started looking for guys to do volunteer work in the hospice program I said sign me up.”

 

Glover feels the time is right for prison hospice because there are many guys dying behind these walls and “they’re not only lifers. Out of the three deaths that have happened in the hospice, only one guy was doing life. The other guys were fairly young and had a chance at freedom.” Glover views the hospice program as a move in the right direction since the elderly prison population is growing annually. "I definitely don’t want to pass in prison, but since I’m gonna have to, I want to be as comfortable as possible and surrounded by my friends.”

Edward Love (LOVE) 50 years old and serving a life sentence for kidnapping in the first degree. He was born and raised in Oceola, Arkansas to Mary Williams and L.A. Sanders and was raised by his step-father Big Pete.

 

Love has three brothers and two sisters and was brought up in a loving, tight-knit family. He attended church every Sunday and was taught to respect all elders and people in general. He is the father of three boys and three girls and loves them all the same.

 

Love was married twice and divorced twice and is currently single and waiting on the right positive lady to enter his life. He is an honor lifer and works as a lumper (utility worker) in cell house 219. He is an active member of the NAACP and enjoys basketball, baseball, and playing cards.

 

Edward Loves cherishes the opportunity to do hospice work because it feels so good to help others without any strings attached.

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