Joyce got a call from her incarcerated father, 63-year-old Ronald Pursley, on Saturday, May 8. He had fallen and broken six ribs. He was spitting blood, and the nurse had told him his old MRSA infection was back.

Then silence. For days, she called the prison and the hospital trying to find out more. Nobody from KDOC returned her numerous frantic voicemails, and the hospital said they had no record of him there.

It was not until Wednesday that a surgeon from KU Med called her – her father had suffered a collapsed lung and underwent surgery. Two chest tubes were inserted. They were trying to prevent pneumonia, given his current lung condition and the elderly man’s other preexisting medical issues.

 When she finally got through to the prison, an operator told her the warden and chief officer had denied visitation or even a phone call. Ronald would “need to be at death’s door” before they would allow her and the family to visit, even though they were right up the street.

The ACLU of Kansas filed an application for functional incapacitation for Ronald back in January, even before his most recent medical incident this month.

At the time of his application last year, he’d suffered from congestive heart failure and heart attack history.

He has hypertension and a painful, life-threatening umbilical hernia. In March of 2020, he lost sight in his right eye. In April, he developed severe testicular pain and has had difficulty urinating. The same month, he tested positive for MRSA, an ongoing condition for him.

Despite these challenges, the Lansing Correctional Facility warden last month denied his application for release due to functional incapacitation.

Ron is slated for release on October 25, 2021. The bulk of his sentence is over and his health is failing— what purpose does it serve to keep him from medical care and his family as he toils?

In so many Petitions of the Week, we cover the suffering of the incarcerated, but this update from Joyce Pursley gives a new window into the cruelty inmates and their families sometimes endure.

The governor could unite Ronald Pursley with his family and allow him to seek proper medical care through clemency; KDOC could do the same through the functional incapacitation process.

Use these tools for what they were designed to do; use these tools for the safety of Ronald Pursley.