Parole Board Grants Dying Woman’s Request

TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) –The Florida Parole Commission has granted a conditional release to a 27-year old woman who is dying of cancer at a South Florida hospital.

Several lawmakers joined Betsie Gallardo’s relatives in Tallahassee Wednesday morning to plead for her release so that she can spend her remaining days with her family.

“I’m not asking for forgiveness, I’m asking for compassion. No matter how you rule, shy of a miracle my daughter has a few weeks to live,” said Gallardo’s adoptive mother Jessica Bussert.

In their ruling the commission granted Gallardo’s release but only if she returned to live with her adoptive family in Indiana under house arrest. They also said she could be released to a hospice in Miami while Indiana officials consider whether they will allow her to return.

“I look forward to seeing movies, eating candy and waiting for that shackle to come off her ankle for the last time,” said Bussert.

Gallardo, who was born in the U.S. HIV positive, grew up in Haiti after her father abandoned her, her sister and mother there. When their mother died, the two sisters were forced to live on the streets.

“Betsie’s first ten years were full of abuse, physical, sexual, starvation. She grew up in the poorest slum this side of the planet,” said Bussert.

In 2008, she was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of assault on a law enforcement officer in Naples. Bussert said her daughter bit an officer while she was being arrested on a child neglect charge after leaving her boyfriend’s child home alone for more than 30 minutes. The charge was later dropped. Bussert said because Betsie was HIV positive, the sentence was harsh.

Four months into her sentence Gallardo was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer. It has since spread to her liver, lungs and ovaries and doctors say her condition is terminal.

“I’m not saying she did no wrong, but what she did, didn’t deserve dying in prison,” said Bussert.

Last week Gallardo, who was serving her prison term at the Broward Correctional Facility, was transferred to Kendall Regional Medical Center. Her family says she only has weeks to live.

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