Kathleen Miles is the executive editor of Noema Magazine. She can be reached on Twitter at @mileskathleen.
Daniel Larsen, 46, has spent almost 13 years in prison — even though he was declared innocent by a federal judge two years ago. Now, his life is at risk because of uncontrolled diabetes for which he’s not getting the care he needs, his wife Christina Larsen told The Huffington Post.
Daniel Larsen, imprisoned at the LA County California State Prison, was diagnosed in August with Type 1 diabetes after he fell into a diabetic coma as a result of the treatment the prison hospital gave him for another illness, according to Christina Larsen. Since then, Daniel Larsen has tried various insulin drugs, and none have stabilized his blood sugar.
Christina Larsen said her husband’s blood sugar on Friday had risen to the level registered when he went into the diabetic coma. Two days earlier, a prison doctor had given him a new prescription for an insulin injection called NovoLog. But a prison hospital aide later told Larsen the institution doesn’t carry the drug, so he continues taking his old medicine that doesn’t control his blood sugar level, Christina Larsen said.
Larsen’s prison diet also causes his blood sugar to spike, his wife said. The prison serves him meals high in carbohydrates, such as rice and potatoes, because he’s vegetarian and has refused to give him a diabetic diet.
“His life is in serious danger because he’s not getting the proper medical attention that he has a right to as a human being,” Christina Larsen said. “I’m trying to do whatever I can to get him the proper care, but what he really needs is to be home where he can get the care he needs.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Christina Larsen and Daniel Larsen, both from the San Fernando Valley, have known each other for 15 years. They got married inside the prison a few weeks ago (photo above).
Daniel Larsen is serving a sentence of 28 years to life under California’s controversial three-strikes law for a 1999 conviction for possessing a concealed knife. But in 2010, a federal judge overturned the conviction and said Larsen’s constitutional rights had been violated because his attorney was incompetent. The court said Larsen was “actually innocent” under the law because it had no confidence in the trial.
Despite the ruling, Larsen wasn’t released. California Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed the federal judge’s decision based on the technicality that Larsen’s lawyers missed the deadline for filing an appeal.
Nearly 130,000 people have signed Christina Larsen’s petition on Change.org calling on Harris to drop her opposition to Daniel Larsen’s release. The Los Angeles Times editorial board, California Innocence Project and the ACLU of California have also called on Harris to free Larsen.
Larsen’s case is at the intersection of California’s failed prison health care system and a controversial law that may be changed. In 2005, a federal judge took control of California’s prison health care system because an average of one inmate was dying each week from “incompetence and at times outright depravity,” according to the judge.
The law that handed Larsen a 28-year sentence — the three-strikes law — is the subject of a Nov. 6 ballot measure, Prop 36. The current law mandates sentences of 25 years to life for people who commit three or more serious crimes, even if the third offense is a misdemeanor.
Prop 36 would change the law so that the third strike must be a felony. In the latest poll of California voters, 63 percent were in favor of Prop 36, and 22 percent were opposed. If the proposition passes, Larsen may be able to petition for a reduced sentence.
Shum Preston, a spokesman for the state Justice Department and Harris’ office, wrote in an email to HuffPost, “We want a speedy resolution to this legal question as well.” Preston declined to say more, citing legal reasons.
Click here to read the story of the judge who exonerated Larsen and the trial that left him with a 28-year sentence.