Tag Archives: health insurance

This Man Sold Meth to Pay for His Son’s Lifesaving Transplant. Obama Gave Him Clemency—But His Ordeal Continues at a Halfway House

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This Man Sold Meth to Pay for His Son’s Lifesaving Transplant. Obama Gave Him Clemency—But His Ordeal Continues at a Halfway House

joejackson

Editor’s note: President Obama has extended clemency to an unparalleled number of people convicted of nonviolent drug-law violations—a program unlikely to be prioritized by either a President Clinton or a President Trump. AlterNet andThe Influence have partnered on a series profiling people impacted by the program, as time runs out for inmates hoping to get their sentences commuted. 


 

It didn’t take long after Dicky Joe Jackson’s son, Cole, got sick, for the health insurance company to find a way to avoid covering his treatments.

“As soon as the bills for the cancer tests started rolling in, the insurance company began looking for ways to get out of paying them,” Jackson has written. His family, which was certainly not made of money in the first place—Jackson had driven a truck for a living—soon faced the kind of health insurance nightmare that might break far bigger bank accounts.

In 1989, when Cole was two, doctors told the Jackson family that the only way to save his life was through a bone marrow transplant. The health insurance company was as understanding about this as you’d expect.

They “upped our monthly premium without notifying us,” Jackson explains. “The automatic draft didn’t clear the bank because we were budgeted tight, so they dropped us.”

Through some ingenious fundraising, the family got part of the money together and Cole got the transplant from his 11-year-old sister April—but it didn’t fully heal him, and they continued racking up medical expenses. By then, they family owed $200,000 in medical bills, Jackson says.

Then Jackson’s father, who’d also worked as a trucker, died. This left Jackson solely responsible for supporting his mother and the rest of his family—and for paying for his son’s life-saving treatments.

Given that he was not a particularly desirable candidate for a bank loan, the only way Jackson could figure out to do all that was to help transport meth on his truck route. A meth dealer he knew—Jackson had occasionally used meth to stay awake on long drives—asked him to carry the drug in his truck.

Then Jackson sold meth to an undercover cop. He was arrested in 1995. In part because the supplier testified against him, claiming that he was the ringleader, the supplier got 10 years. Dicky Joe Jackson got life without parole.

***

“I had given up,” his daughter, April, tells me over the phone.

When she first heard about President Obama’s clemency initiative, her hopes surged. Then they quickly fell, after she realized the sheer number of nonviolent drug prisoners also hoping to have their sentences commuted: “So many thousands of people that deserve this just as much as we do—it’s like winning the lottery. Any time more were announced, I lost just a little bit of hope. I thought, ‘Here we are, nearing the end of Obama’s term. I have no faith that it’ll continue.’”

“We were losing hope,” April says. “And when I got that call, words just can’t describe … I was in disbelief at first. It was very surreal. Like a dream. I felt a gratitude that can’t be expressed with words.”

“I WANT TO DO ALL I CAN FOR THOSE STILL IN SO IM GONNA GET WITH YOU WHEN I GET HOME. THEYVE APPROVED ME FOR HOME CONFINEMENT SO ILL BE HOME IN A WK OR SO,” Jackson typed in an email to an advocacy group on August 3, the day he received clemency.

Jackson walked out of prison on September 1. But, as with most stories involving America’s justice system, his and his family’s trials are far from over. Jackson is technically under the purview of the Bureau of Prisons until December 1, when his sentence officially ends, after which he’ll be on probation for five years.

Even though the family had been told that he was “approved for home confinement,” April says, he was instead diverted to a halfway house run by Volunteers of America. Founded in 1896, the organization defines its mission as, “a church without walls that answers God’s call to transform our communities through a ministry of service that demonstrates to all people that they are beloved.”

That has not been Jackson’s experience so far. “These people here… you know, we were under the understanding that they’re trying to help you reintegrate into society. But they act like the Gestapo, my gosh,” he says. “They’re constantly on your neck, won’t give you a minute’s freedom.”

Halfway houses—meant to serve as re-entry points for prisoners—are chosen by the Bureau of Prisons, according to the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. “When deciding whether to send someone to a halfway house and for how long, the BOP will look at the prisoner’s disciplinary record and whether the prisoner has refused to participate in prison programs and reentry preparation programs,” they write. The BOP did not respond to a request for comment by publication time.

“The original intent of the halfway house was to help prisoners transition from prison life into society,” says Amy Povah, founder of CAN-DO: Justice Through Clemency. “But over the years some staff have adopted a ‘gotcha’ bully mentality that creates unnecessary burdens and oppression.”

On their website, Volunteers of America write, “We excel at meeting immediate needs, but are able to transform lives through our belief in, and reliance on, grace.” They didn’t reply to a request for comment—but their cheery recorded message says they “Help the vulnerable reach their full potential.”

#beatnikhiway.com#ana_christy#meth#transplant#son#clemency#obama#health_insurance#halfway_house

HAPPY 69 YEAR OLD LADY HAS NOT USED MONEY FOR 15 YEARS

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Happy 69 Year Old Lady Has Not Used Money For 15 Years

Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.

 

Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).

 

 

Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.

She started to realize she was living with a lot of stuff she didn’t really need and initially decided not to buy anything else without giving something away. Then she realized how unhappy she was with her work and made the connection between this feeling and the physical symptoms (backache and constant illness) she was feeling, so she decided to take up other jobs. She began washing dishes for 10 Deutchmarks an hour, and despite many were telling her things like “You went to university, you studied to do this?”, she felt good about herself, and didn’t feel like she should be valued more because of her studies than someone working in a kitchen. By 1995, the Tauschring had changed her life so much that she was spending virtually nothing, as everything she needed seemed to find its way into her life.

So in 1996. she took the biggest decision of her life: to live without money. Her children had moved out so she sold the apartment in Dortmund and decided to live nomadically, trading things and services for everything she needed. It was supposed to be a 12-month experiment, but found herself loving it so much that she just couldn’t give it up. 15 years later, she still lives according to the principles of Gib und Nimm, doing various chores for accommodation in the houses of various members of the Tauschring, and loving every minute of it. Schwermer has written two books about her experience of living without money and asked her publisher to give the money to charity so it can make many people happy instead of just one. She’s just happy being healthier and better off than ever before.

All of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.