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  • Writer's pictureBruised Behind Bars

Inmate Jennifer Reba Edwards will Die in Prison Due to Inadequate Medical Care, Attorneys Warn Gov. Jared Polis

Attorneys for rapidly deteriorating inmate Jennifer Reba Edwards sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis pleading for executive clemency


DENVER, CO—Attorneys for Jennifer Reba Edwards (“Jennifer Emmi”) submitted a formal letter to Colorado Governor Jared Polis requesting that he grant Ms. Emmi executive clemency, citing “life-threatening” medical conditions that cannot be properly treated in prison.


Colorado attorney G. Aaron Suazo and Virginia co-counsel John Kiyonaga wrote to Gov. Polis on June 21, providing supporting documentation from Ms. Emmi’s doctors. Ms. Emmi has a history of medical conditions and complications, including episodes of spontaneous blindness, Optic Neuritis, Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome, Lupus, Undifferentiated Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and Hypercoagulation defects. Following her incarceration, the prison facilities’ inability or refusal to provide her with necessary medical care threatened Ms. Emmi’s life further as her condition deteriorated.


It is ultimately under Gov. Polis’ discretion to commute Jennifer’s sentence and, in so doing, get her the medical care she desperately needs. Her attorneys hope the letter, along with a detailed history of Ms. Emmi’s medical issues and doctors’ assessments, will compel Gov. Polis to act promptly in an effort to save her life—but so far, they have not received a response.


“[Jennifer] is gravely ill with multiple autoimmune diseases,” said Dr. Charles Howard in a supporting letter shared with Gov. Polis. “Ms. Emmi has not [and] cannot receive proper medical care in confinement as it is not available. Failure to release her forthwith to appropriate care risks a catastrophic decline in health or death.”


Ms. Emmi was originally placed in a Colorado facility but was abruptly transferred to a Virginia women’s prison following her reporting that she was sexually assaulted by a Colorado guard at Denver Women’s Correctional Facility. At the time of Ms. Emmi's transfer to Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW), she was already suffering a variety of serious medical conditions. FCCW is a correctional facility with a documented history of rendering constitutionally deficient medical care to inmates.


The letter indicates that FCCW staff appear to have manipulated medical records to misrepresent Ms. Emmi's responses to the treatment offered by the facility. Additionally, EKG reports—which FCCW delayed releasing—revealed that Ms. Emmi had a heart attack that was undiagnosed and untreated during last seven months.

Ms. Emmi has been repeatedly denied critical medical care and physically abused during her time in prison. On Ms. Emmi’s advocacy website Bruised Behind Bars, her frequent blog posts indicate that she continues to not receive basic medical care such as cleaning her chest port and being denied a wheelchair. She is hopeful that Gov. Polis will finally return her from Virginia to Colorado—where her friends, family and support system reside.

In April, a preliminary letter about this matter was submitted to Jason S. Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia, requesting assistance in approaching Gov. Polis for executive clemency, but no response was ever received despite multiple follow ups. FCCW was also contacted but failed to respond to Jennifer’s attorneys.


For more information, please visit



Bruised Behind Bars is an advocacy website created by Jennifer Reba Edwards (also known as Jennifer Emmi), to raise awareness for the medical malpractice and abuse incarcerated individuals face in prison. Prior to serving time, Jennifer was an animal rights attorney and advocate, as well as a loving mother. She has worked variously as an author, teacher, mentor and national legal correspondent on radio and television. Jennifer founded the Animal Law Center, which operated as the only full-time Colorado law firm dedicated to animal law. Through Jennifer's work, Senate Bill 226 was passed in Colorado, requiring law enforcement to conduct mandatory animal interaction trainings to reduce the number of police killings of innocent animals. Jennifer was featured in the documentary Of Dogs and Men that aimed to raise awareness about the high number of unjust dog fatalities from police shootings. Jennifer’s advocacy work reached beyond animals to encompass voiceless populations everywhere, including children, veterans, the elderly and disabled people.


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