Bil Browning

WATCH: Betsie Gallardo & Her Mother Speak About Ordeal in Florida Prison

Filed By Bil Browning | January 04, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Betsie Gallardo, Broward County, cancer treatment, medical, parole board

I've been championing HIV+ prisoner Betsie Gallardo's quest to be granted medical clemency and allowed to go home as she dies of cancer. Gallardo was sentenced to five years in state prison for spitting at a police officer after having a flashback to her childhood in Haiti where she was regularly sexually abused by a local policeman.

Betsie's date before the parole board has been bumped up to Wednesday after Bilerico readers and contributors spread the word about Gallardo's situation and other media outlets jumped on the story. Soon Betsie was moved to a hospital and now Miami's CBS station did a profile on Betsie Gallardo yesterday that gives you an opportunity I couldn't; they give you a chance to hear from Betsie and her mother directly.

Florida lawmakers Daphne Campbell, Hazel Rogers and Ari Porth have advocated for Betsie's compassionate release and been instrumental in the progress we've made so far. The three legislators joined several colleagues to request that the state release Betsie immediately.

Betsie Gallardo (Pic via Jessica Bussert)

Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson Jo Ellyn Rackleff sent me a statement yesterday that's after the jump with the video from the news station - along with a way that you can help Betsie's mother keep up her vigil at Betsie's side.

From Florida Department of Corrections spokesperson Jo Ellyn Rackleff:

We are acutely aware of Betsie Gallardo's situation. The department recommended Inmate Gallardo for a conditional medical release in October which was turned down by the Florida Parole Commission. On December 22th we received a request from the Parole Commission for an updated medical report for their scheduled February meeting. Betsie was allowed visitors in the infirmary and her parents visited often. Broward CI Warden Jennifer Folsom told the parents wish that if they wish to see this inmate, they only had to call the Warden's office and they were allowed for visit her as they have been in the past. We have tried to be acutely aware of the parents and the inmate patient's needs during this difficult time. 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 Parole Commission has been moved up to Wednesday January 5th. We are required to provide good nutrition and medical treatment to all inmates and that what is what we do.

Betsie's family is in need of financial support to help get her home to Indiana after being released, and if she is not allowed to leave Florida, her mother will stay behind with her until Betsie's last day of life. Betsie is tragically not expected to live more than a month.

The Pride Center at Equality Park has graciously stepped forward to serve as fiscal agent.

Donations can be sent to:

The Pride Center at Equality Park
P.O. Box 70518
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33307-0518

Read All of Betsie Gallardo's story at The Bilerico Project:

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thank you for the update

Am I the only one who was annoyed that the newscaster failed to mention that HIV CAN'T BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH SALIVA?

Rick Sutton | January 4, 2011 12:21 PM

I msised the earlier Indiana references, Bil. What city, please?

Jessica Bussert | January 4, 2011 3:57 PM

I'm Betsie's mom, Jessica. We're hoping to have Betsie released so we can bring her back to our home near Bloomington, Indiana. Unfortunately, we're now getting information that the parole commission is leaning toward a conditional release that would place Betsie on house arrest. This would not be a problem if we lived in Florida, but Betsie will most likely pass before we could facilitate an interstate transfer. In other words, we might get a "yes" that is still really a "no". My heart is just breaking into tiny little pieces.

Is there an Indiana politician or legislator or someone in authority who can expedite an interstate transfer? (That may be a naive question and if so I apologize.)

Please know that you and your daughter and family are being held up in prayer during this time.

Rick Sutton | January 5, 2011 6:24 AM

Parole and extradition law is a touchy area of our "justice" system. And besides probate, the slowest-moving.

The sending authority has to agree. It sounds as if Florida is content to take half a loaf.


Jessica and Betsie--try to remain calm. I know it's tough. You're together now, an that's what's important.

Jessica--we know nothing of your financial condition. Can you afford ot stay there?

Bil, can you facilitate a contribution fund for Jessica? Or is there a GLBT-friendly group in SE Fla which might act as fiscal agent for donations for Jessica's expenses while ink Fla.? Or a well-off person who has plenty of room in his/her home?