Some of you might recall a post I wrote a few months ago about Paddy Mitchell, Ottawa’s favourite bank robber: Life is cheap in Prison.
Paddy was born in a house at the north end of Preston Street in Ottawa, just about a block from where I live now. Sixty-four years later, he’s dying of cancer in a US federal prison hospital facility in Butner, North Carolina.
Paddy has spent the last 15 years in US maximum security prisons. He was well-loved and well-respected, as bank robbers go, perhaps because none of the members of The Stopwatch Gang ever fired a gun while committing a robbery or escaping from prison. Even the police had a grudging respect for Paddy, while the media helped elevate him to something just short of folk-hero status.
Now he wants to come home to die. His family and friends are trying to make that happen through the Canada/US Prisoner Exchange Treaty. We want him in Canada, preferably in Kingston Ontario, which is close to home, so he and his family can get to spend his last few months together.
In a letter he wrote to me before he was diagnosed with cancer, Paddy said, with respect to the prospect of a transfer back to Canada, “The United States wants its pound of flesh, and I can’t say I blame them.”
I’d say they got their pound of flesh when they ignored the tumor growing out of his chest for a year after he first noticed it and asked for medical attention. Now they owe him. The least they can do is send him home to die.
If you’d like to help bring Paddy home, the Mitchell family is asking that we send letters to our MPs or anybody else who might be able to help, and ask them to get involved. I’m writing mine tonight.