When John Teixeria was moved to a retirement home in Queens Village after three decades in prison, he thought his time behind bars was finally over.
“When I first crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge, I said, ‘It’s over,'” Teixeria recalled of the trip in June 2021 during an interview via his legal team earlier this month- here at Fishkill Correctional Center. “We stopped, went inside, they introduced themselves to me.”
Within minutes, a nurse at Windsor Park Rehab and Nursing Center in Queens indicated there was a problem.
Teixeria said the nursing home staff member told him the facility could not afford the cost of the drug treatment he needed for advanced heart failure and refused to accept it. admit.
So the guards took him back to Fishkill.
“At that moment, I said to myself that I could not just run [away]. It was like being slapped with a ton of bricks again,” he recalls.
Prison reform advocates say his case highlights the lack of options for newly released incarcerated people who have serious medical needs. Many go straight to the city’s crowded homeless shelter system.
Teixeria’s fate also draws attention to the failure of the state prison system to come up with an acceptable release plan nearly two years after his medical parole.
Now 59, Teixeria was granted medical parole on January 28, 2020, becoming one of 18 state prison inmates to be released by that route that year, according to DOCCS. .
As of 2021, only 10 people have been granted this release, records show.
Teixeria and his supporters fear he will die in prison if his case drags out.
The DOCCS demanded that he be released in the “conviction county” which in his case was Suffolk County where the facilities willing to take him are limited, according to his legal team.
On Tuesday, his legal defense team for follow-up the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision in the Dutchess County State Supreme Court, arguing that his continued incarceration and the “sentencing county” rule were “arbitrary and capricious,” the legal threshold which must be reached for the judge to take action.
“He is extremely anxious about his worsening state of health,” said his lawyer, Daniel Negless. “And he sees the writing on the wall that, based on bureaucratic inaction over the past two and a half years, if something doesn’t change, he will die in prison.”
On Friday, Judge Christie Acker ruled that DOCCS must investigate a potential release point at Exodus and other locations. Once a bed is located, DOCCS must release it even if it is not located in the “conviction county,” according to the ruling.
A long sentence
Teixeria was locked up in state prison for 32 years after the October 21, 1988 murder of Kerry Kearns. He was convicted of second-degree murder on June 13, 1990, and sentenced to 25 years to life.
Details of the case remain scarce. The 33-year-old, who witnesses said was last seen with Teixeria the night before, was found dead at her home in Northport, Long Island, stabbed and strangled.
He then signed a written confession – ‘after being physically abused and fearing for his well-being’ – but later recanted, according to court documents linked to the incident. an appeal he filed years later.
The woman’s family could not be reached for comment.
“He had a great record in jail,” said Stefen Short, a Legal Aid Society lawyer also working on Teixeria’s case. “And he is ready to reintegrate into his community and contribute to community life. And that’s the avowed purpose of the criminal justice system – to give people that opportunity.
He was also granted regular parole four months later on July 24, 2020.
In a bizarre bureaucratic setup, Teixeria has met with the parole board every six months since then and secured similar releases each time.
The reason he is still in jail stems from DOCCS’ legal requirement to approve any proposed exit address for someone eligible for community supervision.
It’s more difficult for people like Teixeria who have complex medical needs, prisoner advocates and defense attorneys noted. He has suffered several heart attacks and needs a transplant, according to his medical records.
His legal team says they have offered 13 possible locations where he can get proper care, including a housing site in Queens run by Exodus, a nonprofit that helps formerly incarcerated people.
“We pressed the department very hard to investigate these potential dump locations consistent with its statutory responsibility,” Short said. “Based on what we understand, the department has not conducted any meaningful investigation of these locations.”
DOCCS spokesman Thomas Mailey declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.
“You have to watch out for yourself”
Teixeria “suffered from several life-threatening heart conditions,” according to his court filing.
He had two heart attacks in June 2010 and underwent coronary bypass surgery. A year later, he went into cardiac arrest and doctors inserted an internal defibrillator and pacemaker.
“Since then, Mr. Teixeria has suffered approximately 10 additional heart attacks and has undergone numerous surgeries to replace his defibrillator,” the lawsuit states.
In November 2020, he had a catheter inserted into the right side of his chest to receive a 24-hour intravenous injection of the drug Milrinone, which helps his heart keep pumping.
Prison reform advocates challenge Governor Kathy Hochul must do more liberate the elderly who are dying behind bars.
“Elation,” Teixeria recalled when he first heard the news of his release. “(I thought) the nightmare was finally going to end. And hope to start a whole new life.
As he waits for DOCCS to approve one of the proposed release locations, his need for a heart transplant has become more urgent, according to his lawsuit.
The effectiveness of the Milrinone prescription wanes and he suffers “extensive pain and lethargy that worsens to the point of being bedridden for several days at a stretch,” according to court documents. He sometimes sleeps up to 16 hours a day.
In prison since being granted his first parole, Teixeria has also suffered from “osteomyelitis (a serious bone infection) and multiple infections, including MRSAat the site of his IV line,” the lawsuit states.
His lawyers argue that he does not need to be placed in a hospital or acute care facility upon discharge and that his chest opening does not need daily monitoring. Instead, he could be cared for at a site that offers in-house medical and nursing care, like the one run by Exodus.
Teixeria changes his own bandages in prison, he told THE CITY, via a written list of questions sent through his lawyers.
“After my open heart surgery, after seeing what type of care was not available to me, and the level of aftercare that was not available to the point of non-existence, that’s why at this point I do my own bandage changes and med changes,” he wrote. “When I let them do it for me I was left in ICU twice for over 10 days.
“And in intensive care, I was losing motor and cognitive functions,” he added.
The medical care provided to those incarcerated in state prisons has long been criticized by medical experts and prisoner rights advocates.
“Let’s just say that 90% of my medical care in prison was at my own hands,” Teixeria said. “You have to watch yourself here. To depend on these people is a joke.
CORRECTION (August 8, 2022): An earlier version of this article listed Teixeria as one of 18 people to be released on medical parole. On the contrary, he was one of 18 in 2020.