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Professor Rachel Lopez Discusses Early Release for Terminally Ill Inmates in Public Source

Professor Rachel E. Lopez

June 17, 2015

Terminally ill prison inmates have a difficult time convincing Pennsylvania courts to grant an early release from prison into hospice care, Professor Rachel E. Lopez told Public Source in a June 14 article.

According to Public Source, only nine terminally ill inmates have been released from Pennsylvania state prisons since 2010. The criteria for release is strict, requiring inmates to show they are essentially bed ridden by a terminally ill disease, Public Source reported. Furthermore, even if that proof threshold is met, getting to release can be a slow process, Lopez claimed.  "It’s nearly impossible to overcome that hurdle in a timely fashion,” Lopez said.  Such was the case for one Leone Jesse James who, despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2013, was released in July 2014, only three weeks before his death, Public Source reported. 

Professor Rachel López’s scholarship primarily focuses on methods of accountability for human rights violations and reforms to transitional justice mechanisms. Lopez is the director of the law school's Community Lawyering Clinic which empowers students to be community lawyers, leaders, advocates, policy analysts, and organizers, while at the same time benefitting Drexel's neighbors in Mantua and Powelton Village.