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Imprisoned, Terminally Ill Woman in CA Shown Less Compassion Than Lockerbie Terrorist

By amywindsor |

Where is the mercy in California?

Does America’s lack of compassion know no depths? As the Occupy Wallstreet demonstrations around the USA highlight the very real anger and disappointment in our country’s wealthy elite (and the politicians who protect them) to contribute more to their society, another drama is playing out in California that shows just how little compassion our legal system has for its most frail inmates.

Patricia Wright, a terminally ill woman serving a life sentence in California, has just been denied the right to spend her last days at home with her children. Wright was convicted in 1998 for the murder of her husband seventeen years earlier, without any physical or forensic evidence supporting the conviction. She and her family have maintained her innocence and have advocated for her release from prison for years.

Only two years ago, the terrorist, Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, convicted of the bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie and the death of the 270 passengers was released from prison in Scotland on “compassionate grounds” so he could spend his final days suffering from terminal prostate cancer at home with his family. The fact that the California legal system cannot show the same level of mercy to a woman convicted of much less serious crimes is frustrating and, in my opinion, galling.

Despite being of no threat to society and her son, Alfey Ramdhan, starting a campaign on that has attracted over 2,500 supporters, the request was blocked by Judge Becky Dugan because Ms. Wright has three felony strikes against her and is serving a life sentence without parole, which makes her ineligible for compassionate release.

Two of those strikes on her record stem from an incident in which her then 7-year-old son stole two toys worth less than a dollar each, but were counted as a felony apiece against Ms. Wright. The judge, despite pleas from Wright’s family, would not consider removing either of those felony convictions from her record.

Wright, who is blind, diabetic, and suffering from stage four breast cancer which has spread to her colon, brain, liver, and ovaries, is obviously not going to run away, nor hurt anyone if released, has five children and six grandchildren that want to be with her in her final moments.

Ramdhan is now looking to the governor of California to grant his mother clemency so she can come home. “I haven’t had a Mother’s Day with my mom in more than a decade,” he says “If Gov. Brown is looking to reduce California’s prison population, he should release my mother. It makes no sense to keep her locked up in this condition.”

If you would like to sign a petition to show support for Patricia Wright, you can get more information on the Change.Org website.

Photo Credit: © Gina Sanders –

Read more from Amy Windsor:
Should There Be a Law? 150 Children (So Far!) From One Sperm Donor
Mother Arrested After Baby Laughs Too Loudly in Library
12 Compelling Reasons to Not Friend Your Babysitter on Facebook

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About amywindsor



Amy Windsor is an avid mommy blogger whose blog, Bitchin' Wives Club, was named one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs in 2012. She was a contributor to Babble's Parenting channels.

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22 thoughts on “Imprisoned, Terminally Ill Woman in CA Shown Less Compassion Than Lockerbie Terrorist

  1. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    This is what Life in Prison for murdering someone IS, though. It measn you die in prison alone, without your family.

  2. Brandi says:

    I firmly disagree with compassionate release. They showed no compassion towards their INNOCENT victims none should be given towards them.

  3. Diera says:

    So the level of compassion of the American people should remain pegged at the level of a murderer’s compassion? I say we should show compassion because we are better than murderers are.

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Diera I agree. Many convicts probably don’t “deserve” mercy, but I’m not going to be the one who says it’s ok for one, but not another.

  4. Brandi says:

    As an individual person we may be better, but as a government we need to show fairness & justice.

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Brandi I would love to see our government allow people to die with dignity and at peace. Does that fall under “fairness & justice”?

  5. Sara says:

    Is our compassion selective? If not, should every convict on his/her deathbed be allowed to go home to die? And, is this showing compassion to the victims’ families? As for the Lockerbie bomber, that case reeks of a back room deal, not compassion.

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Sara I think that if a person has family that wants them home and can afford to come and collect them, then why not? The Lockerbie bomber case may have been a political move, but the sentiment of “compassionate leave” remains the same.

  6. Bunnytwenty says:

    Geez… I sure hope that your kids grow up with more empathy than you folks have. Agreeing with Diera here.

  7. Andrea says:

    While I agree that a life sentence for murdering someone means you should die alone in jail, I have compassion for the woman’s children. It is not their fault their mother decided to solve her problem by killing someone (presumably her husband was their father). If spending the last few moments of her life at home can bring her children some peace, than I think it’s worthwhile. They are innocent victims, too.

  8. LogicalMama says:

    I’m with Diera and Bunnytwenty… no physical or forensic evidence with her conviction either!

  9. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    “no physical or forensic evidence with her conviction either!” And seventeen years to appeal. Are you arguing that she’s innocent? Because that’s an entirely different issue. To me, the sentence of life without parole is the compassionate alternative to state mandated executions.

  10. Brandi says:

    @AmyWindsor she is dying with dignity as she is recieving medical care & for being at peace that isn’t something anyone can provide for her.

  11. Brandi says:

    @Andrea, should we release all inmates if they have families who love them & claim they are innocent? It’s completely ridiclious to show a convicted murderer compassion due to her being a mother. I’m fairly certain her family can come to visit her & her sister speaks to her daily, she hasn’t been cut off from her family to die utterly alone.

  12. Sara says:

    I am not trying to be provocative with this question, but would you be arguing for compassionate leave if the convict were a child rapist? Just interested in your thought process on this matter.

  13. Brandi says:

    @Sara, personally I disagree with it completely, I also disagree with early release for good behavior. If you’re convicted of the crime you should do your time. On the slim chance you are innocent, the appeals process should hopefully set you free. However, I understand that people can change & the prison industry is a financial money pit. For smaller crimes such as robbery, I wouldn’t be upset if they released someone on compassionate leave. But, for murder or rape or anything with a life sentence it shouldn’t even be considered.

  14. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    “On the *slim chance* you are innocent, the appeals process *should hopefully* set you free.” It is this kind of lacksidasical and intellectually lazy opining that keeps the powers that be perfectly happy with the system as is. How many people were freed from death row when charitable groups truly investigated? How many people have been freed after spending the majority of their lives behind bars? I don’t give a shit if the number of wrongly convicted is infentessimalbly small… Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. But for too many of the dullard residents of this nation, if they can’t imagine themselves or someone they love as a potential victim of unjust treatment by the justice system, they blow it off as unimportant.

  15. Andrea says:

    @Brandi – actually, I do support releaseing women who are mothers of small children, with certain conditions (must go to college, which would be cheaper than jail, anyways, must following humane parenting methods, must agree to be evaluated, must live in a specific school district), because it’s just so brutally unfair to punish little children and losing your mother, for any reason, is a terrible blow for a child.
    But in this case, innocent or not, she is DYING. I have compassion, not for her, but for her children. If they are willing to have her with them for the few remaining days of her life, then yes, I would let her go. I would say the same of any man, too. I suspect that there are not many child rapists out there who have children who still love and care about them.

  16. Bunnytwenty says:

    Scorpio knocks it out of the park, as usual :)
    Another thing to note: while I haven’t read up on the details of the case, many, many women are in jail for killing ABUSIVE husbands. And considering that the kids seem less concerned with “dad killed mom” than “we want to spend mom’s last moments with her outside of jail,” that says something to me about the circumstances of the crime. You don’t easily forgive someone for killing one of your parents.
    I don’t condone murdering abusive spouses, but I wonder if it would change how some people here are thinking about the case if that element was thrown in?

  17. TBerry says:

    I agree with Bunnytwenty. As her children want to be with her in her last days and they are the “living” victims of the crime then I think there should be compassion for them and her release (she is no longer any threat to society) should be granted. From what I read in the article it sounds like the only thing actually preventing her from getting compassionate release is that she has more than one felony strike on her record and two of them are of a ridiculous nature when you consider it as deterrent to her spending her last days with her family. (She received life without parole instead of just life because of these 2 additional convictions.) If she had been the one to steal it might be another story but are we now still punishing her and her now adult child because he stole $2 worth of toys when he was 7?
    Innocent or not why should we keep one more person in an overcrowded prison if she is no longer a threat to society due to her being incapacitated by an incurable illness.

  18. Meagan says:

    It’s not the role of law to show compassion. If the law is unjust, universal enforcement makes it far more likely to be overturned. Relying on exceptions such as compassionate release and clemency just invites corruption. If the law is unfair, it needs to be changed… not ignored.

  19. Mary says:

    Sad, but that’s all it is – not some denial of “rights” as you allege. This woman has no “right,” god-given or otherwise, to obtain release from prison on the grounds of her health. Comparing her situation with one in Scotland is like comparing apples to carrots: they’re both foods, but one is a fruit and one’s a vegetable. Sure both the terrorist and this woman are imprisoned but thats where the similarities end. Scotland has an entirely different system of government. In America our justice system is built on the idea of democratic contractualism. We, the people, (as a whole), surrender some liberties in exchange for protection of our life, liberty, property, and happiness. By living under this system and taking advantage of its myriad benefits, you agree to the contract that you will become imprisoned if you take away another’s right to the enjoyment of such benefits of a democracy. And democracy = demos (government) by the kratos (populus), a system in which the body ppolitic is the ruler rather than a king, oligarch, etc. So unfortunately this woman had absolutely no standing to request an exception to her “contract” under which everyone else in this country resides.
    There is your American government and political philosophy 101 lesson for the day. Now please stop over-sensationalizing stories like this by playing the, “but she’s a mom!” card, and please stop making mommy bloggers look bad by pulling the “the rich are denying her rights!” card.

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