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Dying Inmate Pleads for Early Release

November 1, 2013

Donna Kidd grew up in Roanoke, Virginia, the youngest of six kids. The 44-year-old is fighting a terminal illness, as she serves a prison sentence at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Fluvanna County. Time is running out, but her mother, siblings, and daughters are fighting to bring her home.

"We just want her released from prison so she can die at home," said Barbara Kingery, Kidd's older sister. "I don't think anyone should have to die in prison."

Kidd has less than one year left to serve on a 12-year prison sentence for writing bad checks and stealing credit cards, but doctors say she wont live that long. Kidd has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and Cirrhosis of the liver. Her physicians at the University of Virginia Medical Center sent a letter to the medical staff at FCCW, recommending Kidd be given medical clemency and released early on "humanitarian grounds".

In July, doctors told Kidd and her family she had three months to live.
Fast-forward to November, and Kidd's family says they are still waiting for a response from the Virginia Department of Corrections on her early release.

"We are just hoping to get her here, maybe get her some help, so she can live a little longer," said Kidd's mother, Delana Gravely.

The governor's office is ultimately responsible for issuing a medical clemency, but it can't take action until the Department of Corrections signs off on an early release. In an email sent to Kidd's family in September, officials with the DOC said Kidd's case was "under review".

"I call them two or three times a week to try to get an answer," said Kingery. "I check my email four or five times a day to see if I've gotten any kind of answer on anything."

From her jail cell, Kidd wrote a letter to Governor Bob McDonnell, pleading to spend her last days at home with her family, writing: "I'm asking for forgiveness. I would love to spend what time I have left with my six kids and four grandkids and my Moma and family."

Two of Kidd's daughters currently live with their grandmother, and hope to be joined by their mother before it's too late.

"I would just like to spend the time I do have left with her," said 19-year-old Christina Gravely. "I don't want her to die in prison."

Kidd's 16-year-old daughter, Melissa, expressed a similar sentiment. "Even if it was just a couple of days, it would make things a whole lot better."

The FCCW is currently embroiled in a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Justice Center on behalf of five inmates, citing cruel and unusual punishment. Attorneys are pushing to turn the lawsuit into a class action case.

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