Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Big Rinty is Dying?

Those familiar with the writings of Erwin James, either in the Guardian, his books or his blog, will know his friend Big Rinty.

Rinty served his sentence and was released on Life License. Several years later he was accused of committing another crime, but was acquitted at trial. Such is the malign nature of the system, though, that Rinty was nevertheless recalled back to prison. Over a decade later, he remains in prison, now living a landing or two below me. The injustice of his situation is enough to torment the sanest of minds.

Rinty is now wasting away. A naturally broad man, he is now visibly melting before our eyes. Erwin has written about this on his own blog.

Speaking to Rinty yesterday, bouncing around ideas for how the system could release him to die in freedom, the thought of chemotherapy came up. Pancreatic cancer is not particularly receptive to treatment, but I thought he may squeeze another few months out of life.

Rinty made what is really a blindingly obvious point. Why should he attempt to extend his life with chemotherapy, when that only means he remains in prison a little bit longer?

How can a system which has in its Statement of Purpose the phrase "it is our duty to look after them with humanity.." bring a man so low as to think such thoughts?


  1. Your writing is some of the most intelligent I've read recently. But unfortunately the circumstances of yours and many others drives me to insanity. What a paradox.
    Best Wishes

  2. I wish I could find something comforting to say, but sometimes words are totally inadequate.

  3. It is a dreadful scenario, and I do really feel for Big Rinty. I pray that he is comfortable and free from pain in this terrible time. He will need to feel the love from all of his friends and know that he is loved and has given to others in his life such that they are stronger to have known and have connected with him.

    Its a hard choice about whether to receive treatment for cancer or not, one that is deeply personal.

    Upon my sisters diagnosis of ovarian cancer, before she knew the medical ins and outs she told me that if an operation was not possible she would not accept treatment like chemo for example. I was horrified, but I understood that to be her choice and I could see her bravery as she faced these tough decisions and I was also reminded of the very deep rebel that my sister is and so understood her decision as entirely in keeping with her character, I even felt some admiration for her bravery. Luckily however she did have surgery which thankfully sorted her out.

    For you and Big Rinty I wish you all the best, and I hope that his time left here will be made as good as can be. Best wishes Big, thinking of you xxx

  4. Very best wishes to Big Rinty. What a sorry world we live in when someone thinks what is the point of receiving treatment - there should never be anyone who feels there is no hope - but of course, that also happens to people who have 'indeterminate sentences' - life without hope is awful.