Last week, lawmakers on Beacon Hill heard some powerful testimony on an issue which doesn’t receive much attention.

"My name, for the record, is Deborah M. DiMasi.  I live in Melrose and my husband, inmate 27371-038 is incarcerated at the Butner Correctional Facility in North Carolina, where he is now serving the fourth year of an eight-year sentence---an inmate struggling to overcome stage-four cancer of the tongue, struggling not only against a horrible disease, but against a stark institutional indifference." 

That inmate is Sal DiMasi, the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House. And the woman advocating for a change in Massachusetts law, even though it won't affect him, is his wife Debbie DiMasi, who is pleading to his former colleagues for the compassionate release of prisoners dying from terminal illness.