In so many Petitions of the Week, we cover the suffering of the incarcerated, but in this update for Ronald Pursley, we also get a window into the cruelty inmates’ families sometimes endure.

Ron, 63, has been incarcerated since May 23, 2016. He is slated for release on October 25, 2021. 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.

His condition has since worsened.

His daughter Joyce Pursley said Ron fell earlier this month, suffering six broken ribs and a collapsed lung. He underwent surgery and had two chest tubes inserted.

She said she has not heard from him since the evening of Saturday, May 8, when he was vomiting blood. The nurse informed him his MRSA was back.

Prison officials, Joyce said, are denying Ron any phone access or visitation saying he would need to be at “death’s door” before they could visit.

Joyce said after leaving multiple voicemails with Lansing and KDOC and not receiving a returned call, KU Med called and confirmed that he was there. They’re trying to prevent him from developing pneumonia because of his lung condition.

KDOC must immediately reconsider Ron’s application. At the very least, KDOC should be facilitating contact between Ron and his family. Also, Gov. Kelly could still act by granting Ron clemency. 

The Pursley family, and Ron in particular, shouldn’t be forced to suffer any longer.