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Prison hospice: Life and death

In March of 2011, prison hospice worker John Paul Madrona began a deathwatch with “the kid,” a 24-year-old thief named Freddy Garcia, who had colon cancer. Garcia, serving nine years for his second felony, had been a gangster. Menacing tattoos covered his shaved head. But he also was fragile, fearful and wanted his mother to hold him.

Garcia reminded Madrona, 35, of the foolish kid he had been when he killed at 18. It didn’t take long for the reminder to magnify his feelings of guilt.

Read day one: Amid ill and dying inmates, a search for redemption

Read day two: In prison hospice, at a loss for the right words

Photo gallery: In prison and dying: Hospice care in a high-security penitentiary


  1. February 1, 2012, 4:01 pm

    A truly powerful mix of words, pictures, video, and sound. Bryan Van Der Burg, who obviously spent days, weeks, and months chronicling the last year in Freddy Garcia's life, brings it together full circle. While no one has pity for Freddy's crimes, one can only be moved by this multimedia piece. Getting the access must have been tough. A sure fire sign of a great journalist.

    By: liaerial@gmail.coim
  2. May 2, 2012, 4:54 pm

    It is diffiicult for me to feel a great deal of compassion for most of these men who spent their healthy years terrorizing and killing people. These criminals have lived at the expense of the taxpayer and are now being medically cared for by the taxpayer — and there are law abiding citizens who can't even get medical care. Sorry, fellows, you are dying and, if indeed, there is a God, I wonder what He will say to you at your moment of passing. OOOOOH don't think I would want to be you at that time…

    By: ivorytn2@gmail
  3. January 30, 2014, 6:14 am

    John Paul is my next door neighbor here in the Mambajao, Camiguin, Philippines. We both grew up played a lot and I never thought he will end up in prison in the US. I miss him so much… Upon looking at his pictures, my tears are falling and I just could not help feeling sorry for him..

    To you John Paul, be strong! God will forgive you… We will see each other one day! Come home to Camiguin when you will get out from there… We still have time to spend together my friend.

    Pls. release him from prison. He already served enough…

    Julius B. de la Rosa
    Mambajao, Camiguin, Philippines

    By: julij
  4. February 17, 2015, 10:27 pm

    I think under Mr. Garcia’s situation of having cancer and knowing he had such a short time to live….that since his crime was so small in comparison to murder and of much worse crimes committed he should have been able to spend hid last days with his loved ones. But yet I have heard that they free child molesters and either beings that are much more dangerous to society. Go figures …honest opinion THE SYSTEM SUCKS. This young Man died not only of an ugly ailment but something worse…A BROKEN HEART…GOD BLESS US ALL.

    By: Debra

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