- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Anita Moore, of Hutchinson, lay in a hospital bed July 4 surrounded by family, including young grandchildren she had just met for the first time. Doctors had told her she had less than a month to live.

The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/29TVGx5 ) reports that there was nothing they could do about her cancer, which started as colon cancer and spread. They could only treat her pain. That meant the 47-year-old woman was going to have to go back to Topeka Correctional Facility to live out her last days.

That was, until a family friend discovered a little-used law that said she could be released from prison early. Because doctors determined she had less than a month to live, Moore qualified for what Kansas law calls terminal medical release.

Such laws are known more broadly as compassionate release, allowing the early release of inmates who are either terminally ill or functionally incapacitated who don’t threaten public safety. Adam Pfannenstiel, director of communications for the Kansas Department of Corrections, said Friday that Kansas has granted compassionate release only twice since the current laws on the matter passed in 2014.

Moore’s daughter, Jamie Beatty of Hutchinson, credited family friend Charlotte Wells as the person who got the ball rolling seeking Moore’s release after that gathering at Stormont-Vail Medical Center in Topeka.

“She told me of her fear of dying in prison alone, without her children and friends and a feeling of love,” Wells wrote in an email. “I promised her that I was going to do whatever it took to get her home.”

Wells contacted KDOC’s Prisoner Review Board to plead for Moore’s release, and after follow-ups with the warden of Topeka Correctional Facility and Moore’s unit team leader, the process began.

Moore didn’t have much time, so her family and Wells were vigilant about making sure they got all of the correct paperwork filed. Beatty and Wells followed up daily with KDOC about the status of the application.

“I made her a promise, and I was going to keep it,” Wells said.

And on July 11, a week after her family visited her in the hospital, Moore was released in Hutchinson, where she stayed with her daughter until she died on July 14. Moore was so weakened by her cancer that she needed Beatty’s help to move anywhere.

“She just got to say her goodbyes and be more comfortable,” Beatty said. “She got to sit at the window and look outside.”

“Just seeing her smile, the sound of her laughing brought joy to my heart,” Wells wrote in an email. “I am so glad I got to spend time with her telling her over and over how much I loved her.”

Wells said Gentiva Hospice’s help with providing care for Moore was invaluable, singling out Erica Hayes and Renee Johnson for thanks.

“These ladies gave a dying woman her wish to die at home surrounded by her children, family and close friends,” Wells wrote. “They gave Anita’s children their mother back. Even though it was only two days, it was amazing.”

Beatty said this was her mother’s second stint in prison. Moore had problems with drugs when she was younger, and she had a relapse a few years ago that ended up with her being in prison on drug convictions. Beatty said even the visit at the hospital was a good step, with Moore able to meet her youngest grandkids, including Beatty’s son, 1-year-old Kaiden Vaughan, and nephew, 2-month-old Markus Green.

“It brought closure, since she got to meet them,” she said. “She got to hold him (Markus). She loved it.”

And even though getting Moore’s early release took a lot of work, and then more work while she was at home - Beatty took two weeks off work to care for her mother, then make funeral arrangements - she considered it all to be worth it.

“I’d expect anybody to do that for their mom,” Beatty said. “Family was a big part of her life.”

“To be with her as she was dying, to hold her hand, tell her how loved and special she was to me, is priceless,” Wells wrote. “Completely unforgettable.”

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com

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