Mothers want release of ill sons from prison

Marsha McIntyre Lowe could not hold back her emotions while discussing her son’s health condition in prison.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine
Rhonda Planes (foreground) had plenty of support during a press conference at the Capitol.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Michael Planes and Cameron McIntyre led very different lives in their late teens.

Planes, according to his mother, had an addiction that led to run-ins with the law for years up until his last sentence in 2017. Ironically, that was the same year that McIntyre was arrested in a classroom at Bethune-Cookman University. He was attending B-CU as the recipient of scholarships in academic, athletics and music.

Planes, 30, and McIntyre, 23, are suffering the same fate now as prisoners in poor health. Their mothers, other family members and advocates for prisoners’ rights told their stories at the Capitol last Thursday.

Marsha McIntyre Lowe, Cameron’s mother and Planes’ mother, Rhonda Planes, said they showed up for a press conference in hopes that lawmakers would address their concern. Democratic state representatives Angie Nixon of Jacksonville and Dianne Hart of Tampa played pivotal roles to make it possible for the parents to bring their concerns to the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Their appeal came one day before this year’s session adjourned. While several prison-related bills came up during the 90-day session, only a handful made it to the floor in either chamber. Among the bills that would have affected the Florida prison system, was one that would have addressed healthcare for prisoners. However that didn’t get further than committee.

Similar complains about prisons’ healthcare resulted in an investigation by the ACLU last May. It focused on the Baker County Detention Center in Macclenny. 

According to multiple news outlets, the investigation found extreme systemic medical neglect. Several cases resulted in hospitalizations, according to findings during the investigation.

Representatives of the Florida correctional system wasn’t immediately available to respond.

Both mothers who came to the Capitol blamed the prison system for their sons’ declining health. McIntyre Lowe wants her son released and Planes wants answers about abuses that she said led to Michael being moved from prison in Lake Butler to Memorial Hospital.

He is serving a 12-year sentence on charges of grand theft of police equipment and car theft. McIntyre and two others were charged with murder. He is serving a 20-year sentence.

McIntyre Lowe held back tears while making her appeal in the building where laws are made. The actual murdering was identified, McIntyre Lowe said. 

“He has never been nor will he ever be a threat to society,” she said, pleading for her son’s release. “Please do not allow what my son has gone through to go in vain.”

McIntyre Lowe chronicled her son’s physical decline, saying he now has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. That makes it impossible for him to participate in his appeal, she said.

Cameron’s health issues began while he was imprisoned in Jacksonville, where his mother said he contracted Tuberculosis. It wasn’t treated until he had to be rushed to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, she said in a statement.

A misdiagnosis of a sexual disease and cancer led to her son being castrated, she said. She added that Cameron has since shown masses and numerous lesions on his brain.

Planes also has been treated for brain damage that his mother said led to surgery last January. He is currently in a fragile vegetative state and has developed bed sores that makes it difficult for him to move, she said.

Planes was also in tears when she explained why she brought her appeal to Tallahassee.

“I would like to see the governor,” she said. “I would like to see my son pardoned.”

McIntyre Lowe wants that for her son, too. 

“Hopefully the outcome today is to get him approved for that  medical release to get him home,” she said, recounting what she’s felt since the day her son was arrested. “It is a nightmare and it has been a nightmare since 2017.”

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