TOPEKA — Christopher McIntyre, a 47-year-old with terminal stage four cancer, was released Tuesday from Lansing Correctional Facility as part of a clemency effort by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.
McIntyre was one of 105 inmates working with the ACLU of Kansas to request some form of executive clemency. Late last week, McIntyre’s petition for release was granted because of “functional incapacitation” — a Kansas Department of Corrections process that allows early release for people with a medical condition so severe they do not pose a threat to society.
This type of release is rare and required a concerted effort from the ACLU and McIntyre’s family to accomplish, the ACLU said in a news release Tuesday. McIntyre will return home to the care of his family in Wichita.
“We have prayed for this day since he was sentenced, and we sent up more prayers after learning how sick he was,” said his sister, Alesia McIntyre. “We’re grateful to the Kansas Department of Corrections for this measure of mercy extended to my brother and to our family.”
The ACLU’s effort is meant to assist model inmates with underlying medical or mental health conditions, like McIntyre. Eighteen of those 105 who applied also did so under the function incapacitation provision.
All clemency requests are subject to consideration by the Kansas Prisoner Review Board. A Kansas statute dictates the board has 120 days to review the petitions and send their recommendation along to Gov. Laura Kelly, who has the final say on the matter.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, correctional facilities across the state have been the site of outbreaks. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has reported 46 outbreaks at these facilities since the pandemic began, with 7,201 cases and 20 deaths.
A father of five, McIntyre received his business management diploma while incarcerated. He also worked jobs requiring a security clearance.
A few months ago, McIntyre began to lose weight rapidly and experienced nausea and weakness. After losing more than 50 pounds, he learned the condition was terminal.
McIntyre is now “unsteady on his feet” and sometimes requires a wheelchair.
Cases like McIntyre’s are why clemency and executive power should be used to correct injustice, said Sharon Brett, ACLU legal director.
“Injustice can take different forms, whether it was the injustice of the original sentence or in Christopher’s case, the injustice of keeping people incarcerated,” Brett said. “Clemency is not about who you were but about what you’re now deserving of. Our clients are far more than their convictions.”