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Glenda Sue Crosley

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Glenda Sue Crosley, who became an advocate for victims of domestic violence after she was convicted of killing her husband, died of cancer.

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Californian columnist Lois Henry

There was so much wrong with the circumstances surrounding Glenda Crosely's death, it's hard to know where to start and where to stop.

Crosley, who was serving a 15-to-life sentence for killing her husband, Sam Crosley, outside a pizza parlor on Ming Avenue in 1986, died July 13 a little more than a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

She had been on the verge of filing a writ for a resentencing hearing under a new law that would have considered the years of abuse she said she suffered at Sam Crosley's hands.

It was a strong case, her attorney Stephanie Gunther said.

The expectation was she would have been out by this December, said daughter Stacey Crosley

But in prison she remained, soon beset with constant stomach pain. Her complaints, and the repeated times she passed out at the prison, went unheeded.

In early June, however, Glenda Crosely was taken by ambulance from the California Institution for Women in Chino to a Riverside hospital, Stacy Crosley said.

A surgeon opened her up and just as quickly restitched the incision. The cancer had gone too far.

"Yeah, it's deadly," Stacy Crosley said of pancreatic cancer. "But they can extend your life if they catch it early enough. If they'd given her a simple blood test years ago it would have popped up."

The lack of adequate care is one thing, she said. But once the extent of her mother's illness was known, she doesn't understand why the prison didn't begin a compassionate release procedure.

I asked that question myself, but never got an answer from state office of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

It's especially hurtful Glenda Crosley wasn't let out on compassionate release because the Chino prison had done exaclty that with inmate Glenda Virgil. She was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.

Both Glendas had appeared in a film about women who had killed their long time batterers, called "Sin By Silence." It was directed by Olivia Klaus who spent months with both Glendas and a collection of other inmates, all members of a support group for women who had killed their abusers.

The movie drives home the need for society to do more to stop domestic violence before it ends in death.

"She could at least have been out long enough to have seen the ocean one last time," Klaus said of Glenda Crosley.

Instead, the prison kept Crosley under guard in the hospital and didn't notify her family, friends nor even her attorney for weeks of her whereabouts and that she was gravely ill.

"We thought she'd gone for a routine check up," Klaus said. "No one knew she was never coming back."

By mid-June Stacy Crosley and attorney Gunther were both calling the prison trying to find Glenda Crosley.

Around the first of July, the prison confirmed Glenda Crosely was alive, but that was all the information it would give Gunther.

It wasn't until July 10 that Stacy Crosely was told she needed to come say her goodbyes.

By that time Glenda Crosley was in a coma.

"Her story was just tragedy after tragedy," Klaus said. "To end this way breaks my heart."

When Stacy Crosley finally got to her mother's side, she said that one of the guards told her Glenda Crosley had repeatedly asked them to contact Stacy, who had power of attorney for her mother.

"If she had had a phone in the room, she would have called me herself," Stacy said.

Instead, all she had was the guards.

"They were with her the whole time," Stacy Crosley said.

A spokeswoman for the CDCR, citing "security reasons," refused, several times and in several ways, to tell me the department's policies on guarding ill inmates.

She did, however, sternly admonish me for using the term "guards," saying the correct terms is "correctional officers."

Labels aside, I wondered about the cost of guarding a terminally ill, 5-foot-tall, 69-year-old woman in a hospital.

Several news stories have reported the standard is two guards per hospitalized inmate. Several guards I've spoken with on background have confirmed that standard, unless a sergeant is required for some reason, which would occasionally bring the total up to three guards.

Stacey Crosley said the Chino guards let it be known hospital shifts are pure overtime. That's about $480 per shift.

There are three shifts per 24-hour period. Assuming Glenda Crosely was in the hospital 36 days before her death and that she had two guards per shift, that works out to about $103,680 in overtime pay alone to watch her die.

Which brings me back to asking why the prison didn't do a compassionate release for Glenda Crosley?

If I ever find out, I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, her family and Klaus are hoping some good can come of Glenda Crosley's tragic story.

A fund has been established in her name with the Alliance Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault. A room at its shelter will be named in her honor and people are encouraged to donate money, or even clothing or toiletry items in her name, Klaus said.

Glenda Crosley was extremely committed to bringing more awareness and resources to ending domestic violence, Klaus recalled.

"We want to continue Glenda's legacy and prevent her story from happening again."

We have a long ways to go.

In 2012, there were about 5,000 calls to Kern County law enforcement agencies involving family violence.

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail lhenry@bakersfield.com To donate

Contact the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault at 1921 19th Street, Bakersfield, CA 93301. Or by phone at 661-322-0931.