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Woman’s mother died from cancer while incarcerated. Now she wants answers

Kristi’s mother would succumb to cancer, but neither of them was aware of it.


Kristi Mann visited her mother, Mashell Mann, at the Birmingham Work Release Facility on June 10. She recalled her mother feeling fine and seeming normal. However, five days later Kristi’s mother would succumb to cancer, but neither of them was aware of it.

On June 5, Kristi told APR Mashell called and said she went to medical because she had what appeared to be a bug bite on her stomach. Mashell got it checked out and was told it was a spider bite. However, Kristi said that her mother was given hydrocortisone cream for it, but no lab work was done.

That Saturday, June 10, Kristi visited her mother and looked at the injury. Kristi stated it looked like a black dot with a red rash around it, and she remembered telling Mashell that she did not think it was a spider bite and needed to have a doctor look at it. Mashell said she would go back Monday, June 12, to have the doctor look at it.

Mashell went back to medical on June 12 and called Kristi afterward saying the doctor told her it was the shingles, not a spider bite. However, Kristi was confused how that could be the case.

“I said the shingles is like all over your body not im just one spot,” Kristi stated. “Something doesn’t make no sense. I said did they do any lab work this time? [Mashell] said ‘no. I didn’t do any lab work. [Mashell] said all they did was order me an antibiotic and gave me some more hydrocortisone cream and gave me some more band aids and sent me on my way.’ By this time no offense, but I was getting pretty pissed off.”


“The state is already inhumane to these people,” Kristi said. “They treat them like animals pretty much. They just throw them in there and then they just do whatever they want to.” 

On June 15, Mashell called Kristi and told her she wasn’t feeling well, and that she was going to the medical facility. 

“I said well go back to medical and then call me back and let me know what they say,” Kristi said. “[Mashell] said I will call you back in a little bit. I never knew that that was going to be the last time I got to speak with my mother.”

Kristi recalled that her mom then walked to medical but then passed out in the facility. Mashell was then transported to UAB’s Hospital at approximately 8 p.m. However, Kristi said she only knew this because Mashell’s dorm mate called and told her, not Birmingham Work Release. 

Kristi was given updates on her mother’s status from the dorm-mate up until midnight, now making it June 16. Kristi said Mashell’s dorm-mate did this while putting herself at risk because the facility never called her. Kristi stated that she just couldn’t understand why the facility was not calling her because the dorm-mate even told her that her mother was going into emergency surgery, yet, Kristi was not relayed this information from the facility. 

“Why the hell is the facility not calling me to let me know what’s going on,” Kristi asked. “[Mashell’s dorm-mate] was like they’re only gonna call you if it’s life or death. Well okay, but like this is my mom. She’s going in for emergency surgery. This is important. The facility knew what was going on in order for them to be relaying the information to these dorm mates.”

Kristi said she was Mashell’s next of kin and power of attorney so she felt she should have been told what was occurring with her mother. Finally, around 2:30 a.m. on June 16, Kristi said Captain Riggins from Birmingham Work Release called and said he was giving her permission to head to the hospital to “make some decisions” regarding Mashell. Kristi responded saying, “You’re calling me now?”

Kristi was only allowed 10 minutes to see her mother that night while she lay on her deathbed. 

Once at UAB, Kristi discovered Mashell had flatlined as she arrived at the hospital, and it took the doctors 30 minutes to resuscitate Mashell. Mashell was already brain-dead and had been on life support for since 8:45 p.m., but it took Birmingham Work Release over six hours to finally call Kristi. Kristi said she was “pissed.”

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Kristi told APR that the hospital did lab work and said that Mashell’s blood count was 144,000, meaning she was in toxic shock. Mashell was rushed into emergency surgery and had her spleen removed due to infection and non-stop bleeding, but she still continued bleeding after the spleen’s removal. The medical professionals then tried clotting Mashell’s blood, and Kristi was asking the doctor how this could be happening.

That is when Kristi was informed by a doctor that Mashell had acute leukemia and nobody knew it. Kristi was astounded and questioned how that could be the case. She had just seen her mother in person five days ago and she was perfectly fine.

“So was nobody doing their job and doing their yearly exams,” Mann said.  “Was somebody not keeping up with their lab work like something had to happen for somebody to not know that my mother had cancer?”

Kristi was asked if Mashell had lab work done recently, and she replied saying, “Not that she’s aware of.” 

Kristi let Mashell stay on life support until June 21, and Mashell passed away on  June 22, at 11:18 a.m. Mashell was 54 years old. 

Kristi stated that she was not even allowed to be with her mother during her final moments due to the facility and Captain Riggins saying it was against policy guidelines since her mom was still a “state inmate.” 

The hospital called and told Kristi when her mother took her last breath.

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Kristi said Mashell was convicted in 1997 for shooting Kristi’s abusive father in 1995. Kristi said it was in self-defense, and that her father abused their family for over a decade. Mashell was initially given a death sentence, but that was changed to 40 years for the crime of murder.

Kristi said her mother was moved to Birmingham Work Release 13 years ago but was denied parole six times. Mashell graduated college and made the Dean’s list four years in a row, Kristi stated. 

“I even told the parole board I’m like, how much more can somebody possibly rehabilitate themselves?” Kristi stated. “She’s out here driving the van, in a community going in and out of the community every day. But yet you can’t grant her parole to be out here in the community. What’s the issue?”

According to an interview with WBRC 6 who obtained Mashell’s parole records, she was routinely denied because of the severity of the crime and the victim’s family opposing her release. 


Kristi spoke with several incarcerated people at Birmingham Work Release following her mother’s death and said they had not received their yearly medical exam in over seven years. 

Kristi is still awaiting the medical records from the facility to determine when was the last time her mother had an exam or may have been exhibiting symptoms of cancer. 

Kristi said she will not be satisfied until something is done and that people from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) are held accountable for their actions. Kristi said that neglect is a crime, but when it’s committed against incarcerated people, no one is held accountable.

“I want reform in this state,” Kristi demanded. “Treat your child with neglect – it’s a crime. You treat your elders with neglect – it’s a crime. What is the difference between that and holding these people accountable for neglect the way they treat people behind bars?”

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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