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Federal prisoner with terminal illness granted parole on compassionate grounds to die outside of jail

A terminally ill federal prisoner, who has been fighting for a compassionate release to die outside of jail, has been granted day parole.

Ed Speidel, a 62-year old prisoner with a terminal lung disease, will be permitted to enter a secure home with round-the-clock medical assistance, his lawyer told CTV News in an email.

Speidel suffers from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) along with rheumatoid arthritis, and medical tests show his lungs have only 19 per cent function compared to healthy adults.

In July, Speidel spoke about his fear of dying behind bars.

“My biggest fear is dying in jail. I don’t want to die in jail,” Speidel told CTV News in a phone interview, from an office in the Matsqui Institution, a medium-security prison in Abbotsford, B.C.

In July of 2022, Speidel, who has served a total of 41 years in prison requested parole by exception – also known as compassionate or geriatric parole — at a hearing, but his request was rejected.

This year, he obtained legal support and worked on an application for medically assisted death.

Speidel told CTV News that he was arrested for robberies and never hurt any one.

With more than 1,700 (25.6 per cent) prisoners in federal jails 50 years old and older, Speidel is one example of aging offenders increasingly susceptible to life-threatening health risks.

Lisa Crossley, who works with Prisoner Legal Services in Vancouver, told CTV News in July she thinks more options should be provided to terminally ill prisoners.

“For the vast majority of people, if you are terminally ill, what risks do you really pose? I think that should be asked and there should be more options for people for some type of release,” Crossley said.

“It is a matter of public importance that affects many people in federal prison.”


With files from CTV National News Medical Correspondent Avis Favaro 

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