Ex-Con Seeks Return to Prison for Medical Treatment
In a depressing commentary on the availability of health care in the United States, a former federal prisoner got himself arrested so he could receive treatment for his leukemia. Although a judge declined to re-imprison the man, saying it would be inhumane, the ex-con was later returned to prison for violating the terms of his supervised release.
After serving 20 years for conspiring to traffic in cocaine, Frank J. Morrocco, 58, was released from federal prison in 2011 and placed on five years’ supervised release. A year later, Morrocco stole $23 worth of “junk items” from a supermarket in Amherst, New York – including shoelaces, sandals and a small stuffed animal – in the hope, he claimed, of returning to prison so he could get “excellent ... top-of-the-line care” for his cancer.
“It was an act of desperation. I went into that store and took things I didn’t need, and I made sure a lot of people saw me,” Morrocco said. “At the time I did it, I felt that I didn’t have any other way to get the care that I need for my leukemia.”
Arrested on a charge of shoplifting, Morrocco initially did not get his wish when U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. declined to reincarcerate him. Describing it as inhumane to send a man back to jail just so he could receive medical treatment, Schroeder instead ordered Morrocco to apply for coverage under a program for people who otherwise cannot afford to pay for health care.
Although currently employed, Morrocco said he could not afford even the reduced costs under the program. Because he has assets of more than $2,500, he did not quality for Medicaid or SSI, though he does not earn enough to pay for private health insurance. He indicated that his mother and several friends had agreed to help him with the payments until he could afford to make them on his own.
However, on April 24, 2013 the district court accepted Morrocco’s guilty plea to another violation of his supervised release related to drug use, and he was returned to prison for 100 days. It was not reported whether he received treatment for his cancer while incarcerated.
There have been several other cases involving people who committed crimes so they could receive medical care in prison. One of those incidents involved former police officer Edward Pascucci, 54, who robbed a Columbus, Georgia bank with an unloaded gun in August 2011.
“I did this foolish thing hoping I would get some kind of care,” said Pascucci, who told a federal district court judge that he was facing the loss of his job, homelessness and heart disease. He was sentenced in February 2012 to five years in federal prison.
Apparently, those who commit crimes hoping to obtain treatment for their medical conditions don’t understand that prison health care is typically abysmal.
Sources: The Buffalo News, www.wltz.com
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login