Survivng Prison as a Type 1

I recently completed a 4 year Bid in the federal prison system, and to say that it was the toughest thing in the world for me to complete successfully as I Type 1 diabetic would be an understatement, I could not choose the insulin I wanted or at times during my stay with the federal government could not even test my sugar , my first year down I could not manage my sugars and was at like 14.7 with my A!C, what a mess, I quickly decided to re discover myself , and get things together , as I refuse to give up ., after years of diligence toward my diabetes, and really reaching down, I was able to manage a good enough diet exercise and self preservation to survive, I am now staying at a 1/2 way house, and quickly went to my Endo to get my A1c, and it was 7.1… I came along way, its amazing what we as humans can endure when we put our minds to it…

ok, this is something I had never thought about to any real degree. Man, that would definitely be tough. To echo Danny, congrats on getting your A1c down. I hope it only continues to get better from here on… And I totally and completely agree, no matter what, you can never EVER give up!

Ever since reading Roddy Pippin’s story I’ve been infuriated with the way the prison system treats people with chronic illnesses. It’s like torture! We’re acting like the third world countries where they cut off prisoners’ toes. How can they possibly not let diabetics test and treat their own lows and highs? Okay, I understand prison is supposed to be a punishment, but hell! We’re not supposed to be endangering people’s lives! It’s completely inhumane.

I’m so glad you made it through your four years, and that you didn’t give up. Getting from a 14.7 to a 7.1, especially under those conditions, is amazing, and it shows how much hard work you must be doing. (Really inspirational for anyone who thinks getting their A1C down is too much of a challenge!) I hope you get through your halfway house with flying colors, and go on to lead a good, happy life. You’ve shown yourself that you can get through anything, things most people won’t ever have to deal with, and managed to succeed…

I’m inspired!! I’ve struggled to get mine down from a cruising altitude of 7.3, 7.5, 7.2, etc. When I start to whine I’ll think of you and know that if you can do it under that situation I have no excuses!!

Congrats and good luck.

I’m glad that you are doing much better. Takes alot of determination and discipline to achieve what you have done with your A1c. I need to get mine down too…ugh. Best wishes to you.

What an inspiring story! You have lived out one of my greatest fears, and come through it a winner. Thanks for sharing your journey.

What you say is so true…Welcome!

Keep up the good work on keeping your sugars down and stay motivated to change your life for the better. You have only one life to live, so it’s better to live a good one as you will be rewarded. Keep testing and stay well.

Here’s this week’s update as written by friend Robert McCausland (

During yesterday’s visit, Roddy looked considerably better than he did two weeks ago when there was still ample evidence of the injuries that he sustained while convulsing during the terrible blood sugar low nearly three weeks ago (see last-week’s before and after photos). However, he stated that he suffered several severe lows last week in that solitary confinement cell and that he was further injured when prison staff used force on him during one of those severe lows, including what Roddy said must have been a “choke hold” that injured Roddy’s neck and back. Roddy indicated that he came to on a stretcher in the prison emergency room at about 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, and that he has little memory of the events that led to his new injuries. Roddy stated that prison officials were videotaping him when he came to and that the UTMB medical staff indicated that they documented his blood sugars at 83, which if Roddy’s understanding is correct is clearly not a credible TDCJ/UTMB reading for someone who had just suffered such a severe low, at least not until after the application of numerous glucose tubes.

Roddy stated that, in addition to all of the oral glucose, he may have been given another D-50 prior to that reading, but he’s not sure about that since he was not fully conscious at that time and TDCJ refused to tell him. Upon regaining consciousness, Roddy said that he observed the prison doctor getting in front of the camera and stating that his sugars were not low. The obvious implication is that TDCJ and UTMB are alleging that Roddy’s severe type 1 diabetes is fake and that his low was not real. And Roddy said that he feels that they are using the video tape to make fun of him during the period of incoherence that accompanies blood sugar lows.

My commentaries:

  1. According to the American Diabetes Association, hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) symptoms “caused by effect of low blood glucose on the brain” include “sleepiness, anger, stubbornness, sadness, lack of coordination, blurred vision, nausea, tingling or numbness in the lips or tongue, nightmares, crying out during sleep, headaches, strange behavior, delirium, confusion, personality change, and unconsciousness.” Even if he had become and angry combative as a result of his low, for state of Texas personnel to put in a choke hold a diabetic suffering such a low and then to selectively videotape such an episode and make light of his condition is clearly inexcusable.
  2. I add that Dr. Jeff Davis Duncan, Medical Director of the Buster Cole State Jail in Fannin County, Texas at the time Roddy was held there, when asked “How would you rate Mr. Pippin’s case as to all the cases of diabetes you’ve dealt with?” responded under oath by stating “I do not recall a more difficult case than Mr. Pippin’s case.” It was that state jail doctor whose order several years ago removed Roddy from the state jail system and placed him into the state prison system where 24/7 medical exists. I extracted this quote from the court transcript dated September 11, 2007. For Texas prison personnel to now deny the severity of Roddy’s disease when that severity has been so well known for so many years speaks for itself.

I was told by a Texas State Senator’s office that multiple stacked state jail sentences like those applied to Roddy are “illegal,” yet I note that Judge Messer and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently denied Roddy’s Writ of Habeas Corpus on this very issue. Perhaps D.A.s statewide should begin to use stacked state jail sentences for violent and repeat offenders instead of first-time non-violent offenders such as Roddy – thereby enabling them to bypass the state’s parole and reform programs in the same way that the D.A. did with Roddy (violent and repeat offenders can be parole eligible and can participate in prison educational and apprenticeship programs under state prison sentences but Roddy is not parole eligible and cannot participate in such programs under his stacked state jail sentences). Those who say that this is Roddy’s own fault for having agreed to such a sentence should read the attached affidavit. The state of Texas has used, and continues to use, Roddy’s disease as a weapon against him. The outrage continues, Roddy’s life remains at great risk and his long-term health is being depleted.

Congrats on the great A1c Magic! Great to hear that you managed so well, even under tough circumstances!

Wow, that truly is inspirational and yes, you have come a long way. Congratulations!

Keep it up, Magic. Since I became T1 27 years ago I always feared being in a situation where I was not in control of my D. I am truly happy that you survived and have done so well since. Best always, Virgil

The experience that Roddy shared is inexcuseable and nauseating. I cannot believe there are people that still treat others like animals. I am truly frightened of being pulled over for “Dui” in Texas when it is just my blood sugars. Wow, a real eye opener. Congrats, Magic for job well done!

What is your plans after the half way house?

Good job Magic! Best of luck with your future!

stay strong! keep at it.

You are a very strong young man. I am sure you are headed the right direction and you have shown by your posts that you have a head on your shoulders. Hang in there. I wish you all the best.