An immigrant mother is asking Arizona authorities to let her son die in peace since he is in the terminal phase of brain cancer and is kept cuffed to his hospital bed with two guards beside him.
"My son is dying, he cannot move and yet they're still keeping him handcuffed," Martha Elena Palomares, originally from the Mexican state of Sonora, told Efe on Tuesday.
Her son, Juan M. Corrales Palomares, 20, is hospitalized at Tucson's University Medical Center.
Corrales, a U.S. citizen, was serving a five-year sentence for possession of drugs and a firearm in Safford state prison when he began to experience severe headaches.
Palomares said she received letters in which her son complained of bad headaches, but she was still surprised when he called her last week from UMC to say he had undergone surgery on Feb. 29.
"He called me to tell me with his own mouth that he didn't know what was happening, that his head hurt him a lot. It was a nurse who told me that they had found some tumors and that it could be cancer," the mother said.
The doctors told her that her son, who is now unconscious, had terminal brain cancer, and they recommended that she disconnect him from life support when the time came, something that she refuses to do.
"What mortifies me is to see that they still have one of his legs cuffed to the bed and two guards are always with him. They don't allow more than one (visitor) in the room and they ask for identification to enter," she said.
"In the situation my son is in, I don't think he can escape, or that I can take him anywhere," she added.
Upon being contacted by Efe, spokesmen with the Arizona Department of Corrections explained that agency policy is to use handcuffs as a way to guarantee the safety of their personnel and of the prisoners.
Palomares also questioned the medical care her son received while he was in prison.
"I don't know what happened with him, someone told me that he had fallen inside there," she said.
Last month the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a lawsuit against the state corrections department arguing that prisoners are not receiving the medical and mental care they need.
The documents presented to the court by the ACLU indicate that sick prisoners who asked for medical attention were told things such as "be patient" and "it's all in your head," or urged to pray for a cure.
"We're asking for several things, among them an order prohibiting the Department of Corrections, for example, from putting people with mental problems in isolated cells," Alessandra Soler, the executive director of the ACLU in Arizona, told Efe on Tuesday.