A man serving his final year of a five-year sentence for drugs fought for months to see his dying 10-year-old daughter. Yet it took public outcry and overwhelming media attention – plus contact from his Congressman – before he was allowed to see her, and even then for only for 20 minutes.
People are given early release from prison all the time, long before they have served 80% of their sentence. Yes, he was in the federal system where there is no parole, but there is still no reason why this man could not have been given compassionate early release. Failing that, he could have been released until his daughter died, then returned to finish his sentence. His little girl was dying of brain cancer, for cripe’s sake, and all she wanted was her daddy. Her father was not in prison for a violent crime, and he poses no threat to society if released. He is in a minimum-security facility, after all.
Anyone who thinks this situation did not call for compassionate early release is truly an evil person. I’m not advocating that he should have been released for his own reasons; I’m advocating that he should have been released early for his daughter’s sake. Now this completely innocent little girl is yet another victim of the war on drugs, because she suffered and died without her beloved daddy by her side.
A 10-year-old girl died of brain cancer early this morning, shortly after receiving what her family said was her dying wish — a visit from her incarcerated father.
“She was holding on to see her father,” Ed Yaeger said of his niece Jayci Yaeger.
Jayci’s father, Jason Charles Yaeger, is serving the final year of a five-year sentence for a drug conviction in a minimum security prison camp in South Dakota, a 3½-hour drive from his daughter who was in hospice care in Lincoln, Neb.
Officials, however, had denied Jason Charles Yaeger’s repeated requests for a furlough so he could spend more time with his daughter, who suffered from terminal brain cancer.
Under the supervision of prison officials, Jason Yaeger visited Jayci Wednesday for about 20 minutes — just days before she died.
“It’s just unfortunate that the visit was cut so short,” Ed Yaeger told ABC News.
The Yaegers are upset with prison officials because Jason Yaeger was not able to be with his daughter when she died.
“He was denied the proper good-bye,” Lori Yaeger, Jayci’s aunt, wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
Jason Charles Yaeger had pleaded repeatedly with prison officials to honor the bureau’s apparent policy of allowing furloughs and transfers under “extraordinary” circumstances, but was rebuffed time and again, he told ABC News in a telephone interview from prison last week.
In a letter to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska — dated Feb. 20 and obtained by ABC News — a regional director from the Department of Justice wrote that “although Mr. Yaeger believes his daughter’s severe medical condition constitutes ‘extraordinary justification,’ a review of his case reveals this specific request was … reviewed … and denied … because his circumstances were not deemed to rise to the level of extraordinary.”
The congressman had requested information about the denials of the furlough or transfer.
Last week, after ABCNEWS.com published a story on Jayci, the Bureau of Prisons released a statement saying that officials there “have reviewed inmate Yaeger’s request for a compassionate release and have determined his situation does not meet the criteria.”
Jayci, named for her father’s initials, had been fighting for her life since she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3, seven years ago. But in the last six months, she had taken a severe turn downward.
Doctors declared her condition terminal in October. Last month, they found they couldn’t transfer her to a children’s hospital closer to her Lincoln, Neb., home because they said she wouldn’t survive the trip, Lori Yaeger said.