Women Behind The Wall

The only show in the nation for, by and about incarcerated women. The moving and compelling stories on how they got there and why so many deserve their freedom…

Please Help Kathy

   I want to tell you about my friend, Katherine Telemachos.  She needs your help.  Katherine is currently serving a life sentence at Broward Correctional Institution, and is terminally ill. We are seeking a conditional medical release from the parole board and we are certain that once you read her story, you will want to help us in making this happen.

Katherine has had a very hard life.  Originally from South Florida, she was born with a terminal liver disease and in 1981 she became the youngest girl in the US to receive an experimental liver transplant at the age of 10 years old.

Katherine’s health remained stable for a few years. However, at 16, doctors discovered that the medication that kept her transplanted liver from rejecting was causing kidney failure.  Despite attempts to save Katherine’s kidneys, in 1989, just eight years after her liver transplant, she received a transplanted kidney from her mother. She was eighteen years old and her life was about to drastically change.

Katherine fought from an early age not just to survive her illnesses but was also the victim of an extremely abusive father.  Her father abused her sexually, physically, emotionally and psychologically.  She was raped, whipped, cut with knives, sodomized and threatened consistently even when she was ill. She also witnessed his abuse inflicted upon her mother.  Katherine had two motivators for keeping quiet; her father’s threat to kill her and her mother, and her deeply embedded shame. Statistics show that women who have suffered such horrific abuse over long period of time lose touch with reality. She once said that she is responsible for killing her father because she was too afraid to kill herself.

Hours after her father was  murdered by her then boyfriend, Katherine was arrested.  She was prosecuted and received a life sentence. Another man that was at the scene plead out to a lesser charge in turn for his testimony against Katherine.  She has been incarcerated since 1991 at the age of 19 and has been in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections for approximately 20 years.  She is now 40 years old.  Katherine remained silent about her childhood abuse until 2005.

In 2003, Katherine noticed a pea sized lump in her left breast.  Despite relentless attempts in seeking treatment, it was not until October 29, 2007 that she received a bilateral radical mastectomy.  Unfortunately, due to the delay in treatment, the cancer had metastasized to her lymph nodes, lung, bone and chest wall.  She is dying.

Due to Katherine’s transplant history, traditional cancer treatments  are not viable options for her.  Despite recommendations, the Florida Department of Corrections has continuously refused to send her to a transplant specialist where alternate treatments could be explored.

Just over a year ago, due to medication she was given for high blood pressure, Katherine’s transplanted kidney failed.  She is now a dialysis patient.  During a catheter removal and replacement operation, she was administered an antibiotic she was allergic to, causing her to develop a severe skin disease. Katherine is not receiving adequate medical care.  She does not receive proper nutrition, pain management, cancer treatment and daily medications are often unavailable.

In 2006 Katherine filed for clemency under the Battered Women’s Law.  This is when she first began to relate to others the details of her horrific abuse.  Her case was presented before Governor Jeb Bush and the Clemency Board and was denied due to the failure of the Florida Domestic Review Board to submit their report in a timely fashion.  I believe Gov. Bush would have granted her clemency at that time, and if so, she would be living a healthy productive life in our community today.  Instead she may die in prison.

Katherine is one of the most amazing women I have even known. She is kind and empathetic to others, highly educated, and always willing to help another. She is unassuming and gentle, quiet and thoughtful and highly dependable.  She is a devout Christian. Katherine has educated herself while in prison.  She graduated from business operations, earned a two year degree in accounting/bookkeeping, and an associates degree from Blackstone School of Law in paralegal studies. She has worked in the Law Library at several institutions assisting staff and other women with their legal needs. Moreover, she has dedicated herself to helping others overcome their shame of abuse.  She broke her silence and shares her pain, her journey of healing and how she became a survivor of abuse rather than a victim.

Katherine and her mother are very close. Katherine’s mom wants her daughter returned to her, and brought home before she dies. Katherine wants to die at home and hopes to have the chance to see the ocean before she passes. Since 2010, several doctors working for the Department of Corrections have diagnosed Katherine with a terminal illness.  Her time is running out.

Without intervention and the mercy of the Governor of Florida and the Florida Parole and Probation Commission, Katherine will die in prison where she has spent the majority of her life. Katherine is seeking a Conditional Medical Release from prison, the same supervised release granted to another terminally ill inmate at Broward CI in Jan. 2011.  It is time for Katherine to go home.  Please help her go home by signing this petition which will  be included in her application for Conditional Medical Release.   Please help Katherine see the ocean one more time.

Sign Kathy’s Petition Here


It is our mission to protect the rights of women in Florida state prisons, cooperatively working for justice to improve the conditions of confinement, to free those wrongly convicted and to work with attorneys that specialize in clemency and parole for those who deserve their freedom. We are a grassroots organization mobilizing to change the criminal justice system in the United States however we are not lawyers and we are not qualified to provide direct legal assistance.

Initially, we are focusing our efforts in helping Florida female inmates and their families because of our founder’s personal experience within FDOC and for the women she left behind. We will look to expand our efforts nationwide as possible. Ultimately, we want to END violence against women everywhere. Although women are the fastest growing segment of the inmate population, they are still outnumbered by about 10-1 by males and need our voice…