Thursday, January 6, 2011

A wasted life

Nearly one year after she was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, Betsie Gallardo was told Wednesday that she will not have to die in a Broward state prison.

But the 27-year-old inmate who was born HIV-positive may not get to die at home in Indiana, either, as her family wishes. . . .

The Florida Parole Commission voted 2-1 Wednesday in Tallahassee to approve Gallardo's medical release on the condition that she have no contact with the victim and that her stay at a Miami-Dade hospice be treated as if she were on house arrest.

The exception to Gallardo's sentence is justified "because of the seriousness of Betsie's illness and the amount of time she has left" . . .

Gallardo's prison sentence stems from an August 2008 arrest in Naples on a charge of child neglect. She left her boyfriend's child home alone for more than 30 minutes and drove his car into a ditch after taking Xanax, a prescription drug for anxiety.

According to the police report, Gallardo was taken to the Naples jail where she bit one deputy on the forearm and wrist and kicked another in the knee as they tried to restrain her.

The child neglect charges were later dropped, but Gallardo was convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest with violence.

Florida law makes it a third degree felony for HIV positive defendants to transfer body fluids during a violent act. Gallardo received a five-year sentence, the maximum, and was scheduled for release in May 2014.

A criminal in her twenties, born with HIV in another country, is released from prison to die with her neglected children. There are dozens of questions you could ask. There are no good answers.

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