If a prison inmate is barred from attending his own mother’s funeral, you might expect his family to raise a fuss, says Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl. The person most upset that Chad Spurley will miss the service is the mother of the man Spurley killed by driving drunk. Spurley was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for the death of Davi Dohm, 36, of Madison. Dohm’s mother, Sue, called the sentence a cakewalk and a blink of an eye compared with her son’s loss of life. She asked the judge for a six-year sentence.
Now, further into the grieving process, she expresses compassion for Spurley and outrage that he will be kept away from the memorial service next Sunday. His mother died of cancer at age 60 on July 15. “That seems rather cold and heartless to me and everyone I have talked to about this issue. He is a prisoner, but he’s still a human being, a person,” she wrote. Spurley, 37, is housed in a medium-security facility. Under state law and prison policy, only inmates in minimum-security prisons are allowed to leave for funeral services of immediate family. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Linda Eggert added, “That’s just part of the price you pay when you get sentenced. Major life events happen, and you’re not going to be there for them.” The memorial service will be videotaped by family for Spurley to watch later in a viewing room at the prison.