US: Dying daughter released from Florida jail following spitting conviction – UPDATE

Update: January 5 2011

The Bilerico Project reports today that

The Florida Parole Board met in an emergency meeting this morning to hear Betsie’s case. The board approved a conditional medical release in a 2 to 1 vote; Betsie is being released to a Miami hospice to live out her final weeks of life surrounded by her family.

Original post: December 24 2010
As we focus on friends and family over the Holiday period, spare a thought for the many people with HIV in prison convicted of ‘crimes’ that harmed no-one except themselves.

In particular think of Betsie Gallardo, 27 – convicted in 2008 of battery on an officer and resisting arrest and sentenced to five years in prison because she is HIV-positive and spit on a police officer during a traffic accident investigation – who is dying of cancer. (Her case went unreported at the time, suggesting that such heinous miscarriages of justice are even more prevalent than we currently think.)

Her mother, Jessica Bussert, writes on the Bilerico blog

Betsie has been sentenced to die in prison. Why? Because she was born with AIDS and spit on a cop. It was definitely a stupid action, but was it one that warranted that she should die locked up, alone, and away from her family?

The case is being championed by Bilerico’s Bil Browning and Michigan Messenger’s Todd Heywood.

Bil includes many details of Betsie’s heart-breaking case, including the full letter from her mother, and information on how to help.  His call to action is one that I hope my blog readers will follow:

Please take a moment to share this post on Facebook, tweet it, e-mail it or just spread it around via word of mouth. And when you’ve done that, do the most important part – contact the Executive Clemency Commission with the information below.

NOTE: When calling the four members of the Executive Clemency Commission, please reference the following:
Inmate Name: Betsie Gallardo at Broward Correctional Institution
Inmate DC#: Y42277

Please tell them: “It is already a crime that Betsy has spent time in jail for HIV-stigma and discrimination. I urge Florida’s Executive Clemency Commission to grant Betsy Gallardo a medical clemency to allow her to go home to her family and die with dignity and respect.

US-based readers: please also sign this petition at