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Federal BOP Discharges Severely Disabled Prisoner To Closed Homeless Shelter

by John E. Dannenberg

On August 8, 2008, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) discharged prisoner Michael McHone from its Edgefield, South Carolina prison to spend his first night in a motel. The next day, a Saturday, a prison worker took McHone to Asheville and dropped him off in front of the West Carolina Rescue Mission at 10 a.m. But the Mission didn't open until 4 p.m. on Saturdays. So, the BOP employee pushed McHone two blocks in his wheelchair to A-Hope, a day care program for medically needy indigents. A-Hope is open until noon on Saturdays.

A-hope personnel observed McHone's debilitated condition. He was so disabled that he couldn't move his own wheelchair or speak clearly. "It was pretty easy to take one look at him and know he wasn't going to be able to take care of himself, even in a shelter," said A-hope staffer Bryan Landis. "He was bad. I don't care what crime he committed. He didn't deserve to be treated like that," commented A-hope employee John Hairston.

McHone had just finished a four-year term for aiding and abetting an escape back in 1990. BOP spokesperson Rita Teel said that when prisoners are due for release, the BOP cannot keep them longer. They are assigned case managers who help them plan for their release, and most go either to family or a halfway house, she said. McHone was told to contact his case manager that morning, but he was too weak to do so.

A-Hope called the Buncombe County Department of Social Services for help. However, hours later, Social Services still couldn't decide what to do. So, when A-hope closed at noon, Landis called 911 and had McHone taken to Mission Hospital, where he was last reported in fair condition.


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