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Family Pleads For Dying Woman’s Release From Prison

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – The family of a dying inmate will ask the Florida parole commission on Wednesday to release her from prison and allow her to go home to her family.

Betsie Gallardo, 27, was serving a five year prison term at the Broward Correctional Facility until she was transferred to Kendall Regional Medical Center last week.

Gallardo is suffering from terminal cancer.

CBS4 News spoke with her adoptive mother who travelled here from Indiana to be with her daughter.

“As a young girl Betsie always wanted to be a dancer.  Before she made some mistakes she was enrolled in college to study therapy and dance,” said mother Jessica Bussert.

“By the time we got down here it was three weeks without any nutrition.  She looked like a skeleton wrapped up in skin when I saw her,” said Bussert who claims her daughter was also suffering from a bowel blockage and that the prison denied her intravenous fluids.

“She’s gained eight pounds since being in the hospital,” said Bussert.

Gallardo was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of assault on a law enforcement officer. Bussert says Gallardo spit on the officer while she was being arrested and because she was born HIV positive, the sentence was harsh.

Gallardo was born in the U.S. but grew up in Haiti.

According to Bussert, the girl’s father abandoned Betsie, her sister and their mother in Haiti.  Their mother died, and Gallardo lived on the streets.

“I’m not saying she did no wrong, but what she did, didn’t deserve dying in prison,” said Bussert. “Betsie’s first ten years were full of abuse, physical, sexual, starvation.  She grew up in the poorest slum this side of the planet.”

Now the girl who held such promise has only weeks to live.

Her mother will ask Florida’s parole commission Wednesday, for the second time, to release her to her family.

“This girl is not a threat, a first offender.  This was the first time she got in legal trouble, said Bussert. “I just want to take her home to let her die with those who love her.”

The Florida Department of Corrections issued this statement:

“We are acutely aware of Betside Gallardo’s situation.  The department recommended Gallardo for a conditional medical release in October which was turned down by the Florida Parole Commission.  On December 22nd we received a request from the Parole Commission for an updated medical report for their scheduled February meeting.  This is now in the hands of the Florida Parole Commission.  The Department has provided the Parole Board with an updated medical report.  Her hearing before the commission has been moved up to Wednesday January 5th.  We are required to provide good nutrition and medical treatment to all inmates and that is what we do,” says Jo Ellyn Rackleff.

Meanwhile Bussert says she has gotten vital support from Florida lawmakers Daphne Campbell, Hazel Rogers and Ari Porth.  They have written letters to the parole commission on her behalf.

The Pride Center of Ft. Lauderdale is also accepting donations for her hospice care.

If you would like to donate you can contact the Pride Center at PO BOX 70518, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33307

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