An inmate dies of cancer detected late in prison, his relatives plan to file a complaint

The open prison of Casabianda, in Corsica – STEPHAN AGOSTINI / AFP

The man had complained of significant pain as early as August last year. It took until December before he was sent to the hospital and diagnosed with cancer.

“I wonder if there is fairness of care in prison. Clearly, there, that was not the case.” It’s been a month since Catherine lost her companion, Thomas (the names have been changed). The latter, imprisoned in the prison of Casabianda, on the eastern flank of Corsica, was struck down in less than a year by cancer which spread to many parts of the body, even to the brain.

Today, Thomas’ relatives are convinced of this: the difficulties he encountered in receiving appropriate care in prison precipitated the deterioration of his state of health.

“My friend paid with his life for a failure”, laments Catherine, her throat tight, with

Pains appear in August 2021

The lump occurs in August, last year, at the level of his pectoral. At the Casabianda prison medical unit, it is believed to be an inflammatory problem, says Catherine. “He was told it could be related to the Covid-19 vaccine, because he had just received his second dose.”

But over the weeks, the size increases, and the communication between the prisoner and the medical unit seems to be broken. In mid-September, an ultrasound revealed several lumps while blood tests showed that the problem was not inflammatory. Despite his complaints, Thomas is only prescribed Doliprane and Tramadol, a drug belonging to the opioid family used to relieve pain.

“He could no longer write, hold his pen correctly. But he was told that the care was complicated to carry out, where he was”, continues his companion.

Transferred to hospital four months later

With the International Observatory of Prisons (OIP), which relayed Catherine’s testimony, a doctor affirms that “the lack of response to treatment and the size of the lymph nodes identified on the ultrasound should have led to rapid additional examinations, potentially a biopsy”.

However, Thomas is only prescribed, once again, painkillers. Between August and December, the size goes from 6 to 20 centimeters. “When I went to see him, he explained the place his pain took in his daily life. When I saw him in December, I hallucinated about his condition”, recalls Catherine. This one evokes the notes that his companion took. “He recorded everything, his pain, his anxieties, his prescriptions.”

Finally, faced with the urgency of his state of health, Thomas was transferred to the Interregional Secure Hospital Unit in Marseille at the beginning of December, four months after the appearance of the first lump. There, after a biopsy, he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic cancer which progressed very rapidly.

“He was sick and nothing was done”

Catherine and the family of Thomas, to whom there are only a few months left to live, then fight to obtain that he has the possibility of returning to his family. On December 30, the sentencing judge acceded to their request. It is therefore at his home that he succumbed, on July 21st.

Today only anger and incomprehension remain among his relatives. “He was sick, worried. He showed it and yet nothing was done,” laments his companion. “He is coming out of detention and he hears that he only has a few months left to live. He has not even been entitled to a reprieve.”

“Is it a failure of the state? Of the doctors? Of the detention center?”, she wonders again.

If “nothing is formalized”, Catherine plans to initiate legal proceedings: “We know that it will not bring him back but we would like it to be known, to be heard. consciences. We don’t want anyone to have to go through that again.” Contacted this Friday, the management of Casabianda prison did not respond to our request for an interview.

Original article published on

VIDEO – Japanese prison system: former prisoners testify

Leave a Comment