Petitioning United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, KS, to Provide People with Diabetes with Adequate Medical Care

Do you believe that people with diabetes, even in prison, should receive adequate medical care? James Ward, as outlined in diaTribe, receives his insulin three hours AFTER his meals – read about it at

This treatment does not meet a minimum standard of humane care and puts Mr. Ward at high risk for diabetes complications including blindness, nerve damage, amputation, and early death.

This is not right.

To improve the situation, we would respectfully request that USP Leavenworth either send nurses to the dining hall with proper diabetes supplies and allow insulin to be injected there, send inmates straight to the clinic from the dining hall for their insulin, or change meal times for people with diabetes to better serve their medical care. If USP Leavenworth is not capable or refuses to make these changes, and if they continue to view healthcare as a privilege, not a right, we would respectfully request that James should be elsewhere.

Join us in protesting this unacceptable care.

Update, 10/8/2012

We did it! Because people with diabetes spoke out, James Ward is now receiving better care. Read about it in this report in diaTribe!

Shawnmarie - so true. I feel like this is, in a way, giving him the death penalty without ever convicting him of such. While it is a sensitive topic, and might look like "special treatment" to some, I hope many people sign the petition.

If our prison system is supposed to "reform" criminals, this guy deserves to stay healthy through that process.

You are exactly right Shawnmarie....doing simple things now will save money later. I would also argue that deliberately inducing complications, as is likely to happen with this regimen, is a form of inhumane punishment. Would we stand by if they decided to gouge his eyes out or cut off limbs ? That's essentially what they are doing, just very slowly....

One question: Has James looked into suing FBOP for what amounts to cruel and unusual punishment?

Saw this and thought it was outrageous! Definitely signed and I hope lots more do to.

Signed and shared. I hope this can get some momentum. I feel bad for the guy and, yes, being diabetic isn't a crime.

But yet in Massachusetts, a judge just granted a convicted murderer a sex-change operation at the taxpayer's expense. Where is the logic?


I think he should be able to get his insulin on time..I don't think he should be able to get an insulin pump or cgm though. I doubt they would let them have it in jail anyways..but yeah I don't think it's right to withhold insulin.

Fantastic update about James Ward, reported by Kelly Close in diaTribe:

A few days ago, I received the most amazing news. As you may recall from Jim Hirsch’s extraordinary logbook in diaTribe #45, Jay Ward is a prisoner at Leavenworth’s medium-security penitentiary who has been receiving dangerously substandard care for his type 1 diabetes. Jay was receiving NPH and regular insulin hours after his meals instead of the recommended 15-30 minutes before meals, causing his glucose levels to spike to 300 or 400 mg/dl and putting him at a significantly increased risk for diabetes complications. But now, thanks to the inspiring, tireless advocacy of Jay’s father, of diaTribe contributor Jim Hirsch, and all of you who so wonderfully declared your support by signing our petition, Jay is now receiving a combination of Lantus and rapid-acting insulin. This is unquestionably a huge step forward, especially because he is now getting these newer insulins before lunch and dinner. While his care still isn’t perfect – Jay still gets his morning insulin shot after breakfast and Leavenworth doctors are still refusing to treat the hepatitis C he previously contracted during his incarceration – it’s moments like these that give me hope that, if we work together, we can help those who need it most. Thank you, again.


A few years ago my adult son and I got into a fight. The police were called and I got arrested for Domestic Violence. I won't bore you with details of the fight but my Son and I made up and are very close, I think we both learned something from it.
The night I spent in Jail is what I remember most vividly. Their policy is to not give insulin unless your BS is above 200 (its been awhile so I maybe off by a digit or two but 200 + or -.) Now imagine yourself in huge cell with approx 20 inmates, your BS goes high and your bladder gets irritated by the extra sugar and feels like you've gotta pee but you know it wont be a normal full stream... and you've got to relax and do it in the middle of a wide open room.
I avoided that by giving my tray away, It's amazing how many friends you can make when you give your tray full of supper to the other inmates.
All joking aside I learned how much the system could care less about T-1s. Same thing if your in the hospital short term. They're more concerned with you having a seizure. Adding sticky sugar to the inside of your arteries doesn't scare them because that damage won't be obvious / proveable short-term.

I am curious why Mr. Ward is in prison. No-matter what the reason we need to be humane. Keep in mind that if a diabetic gets incarated, receives bad care, and then is miraculously found innocent he or she has lost far more than the time spent, the loss would likely include complications and a shortened life span.