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News / Clark County News

Imprisoned Vancouver pastor John Bishop has brain tumor, friend says

While friends call for donations on his behalf, prison officials say government provides medical care at no cost

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor
Published: February 14, 2020, 6:36pm

A friend of former Vancouver pastor John Bishop’s, who is serving time in federal prison, says Bishop is suffering from a brain tumor and that donations would be welcomed. While prison officials would not discuss Bishop’s health, they say the government offers medical care at no cost to inmates.

Bishop, 57, founded Living Hope Church and built it into a large enterprise. He was arrested in December 2017 for attempting to smuggle nearly 300 pounds of marijuana into the United States from Mexico. He later pleaded guilty, and following a number of contentious hearings, was sentenced Nov. 21, 2018, to serve five years in federal prison.

He is being housed at the medium security Federal Correctional Institution in Florence, Colo. Bishop is set to be released Dec. 29, 2022.

The story of how the former pastor ended up in federal custody was detailed in a series of Columbian stories published in September 2018.

On Sunday afternoon, Bishop’s friend Lance Dutton wrote on Facebook:

“My friends, I would like to update you on our pastor and friend John Bishop. John has been diagnosed with a very large brain tumor and is in desperate need of all of our prayers at this moment. He told me just moments ago he spends most of his days in his bunk with massive headaches and his peripheral vision and optic nerves are being affected as well. Please send your prayers for Pastor Bishop and his family!”

The post includes information for how people can send well wishes and donate money to Bishop in prison through money wiring services.

As of Friday afternoon, Dutton’s post had been shared 82 times and garnered 638 comments. In responding to people’s questions, Dutton indicated that Bishop learned about the tumor in September, and the prison had not yet done anything about it. Dutton said Bishop will see a doctor in two weeks and may be admitted to a local hospital.

Citing privacy concerns, Justin Long, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, said: “We do not comment on a particular inmate’s health status or medical treatment.”

He did say, however, that “the BOP covers all medical expenses associated with the treatment of those in BOP custody,” and that people cannot donate toward an inmate’s health care costs, because they are already covered.

Long did not comment on the nature of the Facebook post. He said he would alert appropriate staff of the information.

Health care provided

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons provides essential medical, dental and mental health care services to inmates, using “licensed and credentialed health care providers in its ambulatory care units, which are supported by community consultants and specialists,” Long wrote in an email.

The federal agency also operates several medical referral centers for advanced care and will send inmates to local hospitals when the need arises.

“Medical care afforded to BOP inmates is primarily provided by full-time BOP staff and supplemented by service contracts with local health care providers. BOP staff responsible for oversight of service contracts regularly monitor compliance with contracted health care services. BOP requires hospitals and physicians to be licensed, accredited, and/or certified by a recognized professional accrediting body,” according to Long.

Health services staff screen all inmates within 24 hours of entering a Bureau of Prisons facility, which includes a dental assessment and screening for mental illness and adjustment issues. Prisoners are also evaluated when a health condition develops requiring treatment, Long said.

Inmates and prisons are classified according to medical care levels.

“Inmate classifications are based on the medical history and health condition of the inmate, while facility classifications are based on the inmate care level that the facility is staffed and equipped to handle,” Long wrote. “The BOP provides timely and efficient designations and movements of inmates with health care needs from initial commitment or from current institution to locations that possess the required health care resources while meeting the community standard of medical care.”