Blog Article 

 34—Heavy Lifting 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

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The wife of a person in prison asked a question about job details that require her 70-year-old husband to lift heavy objects. We offer her question and our response with hopes of helping others understand the prison experience.

Question Received from Wife:

My husband told me he has not been able to contact medical. His case worker is out for the foreseeable future.  All week lifts heavy objects.  His prostate is getting worse. He is almost 70 and he shouldn’t be lifting all day and night.  He is afraid to tell them he has two torn rotator cuffs, he has back issues, and suffers from prostate pain. I feel helpless.

Our Response:

Hi Cindy. I’m Michael Santos, and I know you’ve been communicating with my wife, Carole.

As you are doing, Carole stood by my side through the final ten years of my sentence. During the first 16 years I served, my sisters and parents advocated for me before Carole married me inside a prison visiting room.

Their concern for my welfare gave me the strength to endure challenging times. For this reason, I want you to know that you’re never helpless. Your love and devotion to your husband through these difficulties that he endures is helpful to him in ways beyond anyone’s ability to comprehend. You’re giving him the strength to make it through.

In response to your question, I want you to know that he should not lift anything jeopardizing his health. I am sending your husband a copy of this message. He has a right to protect his health. As a 70-year-old man with health complications, such as prostrate pain, back issues, and torn rotator cuffs, he is within his right to let his supervisor know that he cannot jeopardize his health by lifting heavy objects.

The Bureau of Prisons will not require him to put himself at risk of further health complications.

If he is reluctant to tell others that lifting heavy objects jeopardizes his health, I need to know the specifics. If I know the specifics, I can offer guidance that he can use to self-advocate—at least as I would have begun an advocacy campaign, given the situation at hand.

I cannot think of a scenario for a person in prison to put his health in jeopardy. Given that he spent so much time on our webinars before he surrendered, I trust that he spent time documenting all his medical complications. We can rely upon that documentation to show why staff members should not rely upon him to lift heavy objects all day.

Instead, staff members should assign him to light-duty job assignments, such as working in the library if possible.

I know the prison where he serves his sentence is on special operations. Nevertheless, those special operations do not require him to jeopardize his health by lifting heavy objects.

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