“We want freedom for all Believers of Islam now held in federal prisons. We want freedom for all Black men and women now under death sentence in innumerable prisons in the North as well as the South.”—Point No. 5 The Muslim Program/What The Muslims Want
MIAMI—Marsha McIntyre Lowe’s 25-year-old son is not the same man he was two years ago.
“Knowing how your son was and the type of person he is, and you know he’s undeserving [of this], it breaks my heart,” she said. “But I try not to let the anger and the hate consume me.”
Cameron McIntyre is an inmate at Reception and Medical Center, a state prison and hospital for men in Lake Butler, Florida, located about an hour from Jacksonville. Before his arrest in August 2017, he was a freshman at Bethune-Cookman University with three scholarships. He was a writer and a talented musician with a heart of gold, a supporter said. But after a tuberculosis shot, misdiagnoses, and alleged medical neglect, he was left castrated, sick, paralyzed and cognitively deteriorating.
His mother, Ms. McIntyre Lowe, is now deep in a yearslong fight to get justice for her son.
A life-altering arrest
Cameron’s life changed in July 2017, at just 19 years old.
“Cameron was in a situation where it was wrong place, wrong time,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said during an interview with The 7th Region Coalition to Help Save Lives. “He got a call to go with someone to try and purchase some weed.”
Cameron ended up in a car with three other people when one of them shot and killed another. Cameron faced charges, including murder. He spent the next four years awaiting trial, which was delayed by a constant stream of canceled hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We paid an attorney a lot of money to fight for our son,” and then (the attorney) decided she didn’t think she could beat this case, Ms. McIntyre Lowe said during the interview. The attorney suggested that my son take a plea, she continued.
“I refused the plea. So, [the attorney] went out to the jail and she convinced [my] son that the plea was the best thing for him. She told him, ‘you’re a man, your mom can’t live for you, she’s not in this jail,’” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said.
Ms. McIntyre Lowe says the attorney told Cameron he would get nine years since he was a first-time offender. Cameron pleaded guilty on February 23, 2022, and in May 2022, was sentenced to 20 years, instead of the nine he was guaranteed.
“I collapsed in the hallway,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said during the interview. “My attorney, who I paid all of this money to, walked past me and looked down and said, ‘Oh Marsha, get up.’”
Before pleading guilty, while awaiting trial in the Duval County Jail, Ms. McIntyre Lowe says Cameron called home and complained that he was not feeling well.
“He called one day and said they gave him a shot in his arm and it was hurting and it was breaking out,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said. “Well, we thought that it was a COVID vaccine. We later found out that it was a [tuberculosis] test and that the TB test did what it was supposed to do and it reacted and caused his arm to break out.”
Tuberculosis is an infectious bacterial disease that mainly affects the lungs. Ms. McIntyre Lowe says she later found out that Cameron was given the shot because there had been an outbreak at the jail.
After Cameron’s call, she called the jail many times. At one point, she said she received a call from another inmate, who informed her Cameron had collapsed. She says she rushed to the jail, but no one would come out to address her claims. Eventually, Cameron called and said all he was given was Tylenol. Cameron was later moved to the Wakulla Correctional Institution in Wakulla County, Florida.
“Every visit, I could see him gradually losing weight,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said. “Then he would start slurring his speech and then he would start kind of not remembering things. My son went from 180 lbs to 98 lbs.”
Ms. McIntyre Lowe says Cameron’s health continued to deteriorate. He had told her he found a lump on his testicle, but officials ruled it out as a sexually transmitted disease, so he was given antibiotics. By the time Cameron was finally taken to the hospital, Ms. McIntyre Lowe learned that his tuberculosis had spread to his brain and spine.
That was also when she received a call from a doctor, who said the lump on his testicle was cancerous. He was castrated without her permission. She says a week later, the doctor called and told her that it was not cancer, but that the lump was caused by the spread of Cameron’s tuberculosis.
In December 2022, Cameron was sent back into the prison system with a strict regimen to treat his tuberculosis. Ms. McIntyre Lowe says the regimen was never followed. Days later, he was found unresponsive and was taken to the ICU. He remained in the hospital for the next eight months. Upon visiting him in the hospital, Ms. McIntyre Lowe found out Cameron had had a stroke and that he was paralyzed on his right side. He also had numerous lesions on his brain, which impacted his cognitive ability.
Ms. McIntyre Lowe applied for Cameron to be granted compassionate release so he could be properly treated at home but was denied.
In a statement to The Final Call, The Florida Department of Corrections said it, “ensures an appropriate level of health care is provided to all inmates and FDC’s medical provider is held accountable for care in line with evolving national standards. While incarcerated, inmates are continuously monitored and evaluated for medical, dental and mental health needs. If an inmate has a health concern, they can request a routine sick call or report a medical emergency to health care staff who will make an assessment.”
FDC did not comment specifically about Cameron’s case due to privacy laws.
Cameron’s case is not unique
While Cameron’s story is heartbreaking, there are unfortunately many others just like him.
“There are many cases out there such as this, and crises such as this are still in existence in a systematic way. We have many Camerons and other sisters as well,” Zackariah Muhammad, Nation of Islam 7th Regional Prison Reform Ministry Student Coordinator, told The Final Call.
Just last year, Florida state representatives sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking for the Department of Justice to investigate possible medical negligence in the Duval County Jail, the same jail where Cameron began to feel sick. Last year, the jail’s former medical provider, Armor Correctional Health Services, was ordered to pay $16 million in a medical malpractice case. The company became the healthcare provider for the Duval County Jail in 2017. The contract was terminated in July 2023, after a news outlet, The Tributary, reported deaths at the jail had tripled when Armor took over.
“So, you have these cases, but if you don’t have a support system or a strong support system, these things go unknown, unnoticed and covered up,” Mr. Muhammad said. “There are many Camerons in the prison system. State, federal and even in the youth detention center.”
Rashad Shabazz, a paralegal and the Nation of Islam 7th Regional Prison Reform Ministry Student Secretary, spent 26 years in the Florida prison system. He says he also experienced medical negligence.
“There are so many other men and women in the Florida Department of Corrections right now who are suffering as [Cameron] suffers,” Mr. Shabazz shared during The 7th Region Coalition to Help Save Lives podcast. “Maybe not as much, but they have gone through similar situations with the medical staff and the medical department of the Florida Department of Corrections, which I stand here today to tell the world it’s a chop shop.”
Mr. Shabazz says he did not receive the proper medical care after receiving open heart surgery during his prison sentence.
“The medical staff are just there to work eight hours a day, now 12 hours a day, to get their paycheck and go home,” he said. “There is no care. There is no deliverance from the sicknesses and ailments that [the inmates] suffer in prison.”
The Nation of Islam’s Prison Reform Ministry has been assisting Ms. McIntyre Lowe during her fight for justice. The Ministry outlined and is implementing a plan of action, which includes broadcasting Ms. McIntyre Lowe’s story on various media platforms, consulting an attorney experienced in medical malpractice, filing a formal complaint with the Florida Department of Corrections, and more. As of now, Ms. McIntyre Lowe is working with a civil rights attorney and plans to file lawsuits against the various agencies involved with Cameron’s care.
“To me, justice looks like my son being able to come home and get the medical attention that he needs and deserves and them compensating [him] for what they put him through,” she told The Final Call.
She says the support of the Nation of Islam’s Prison Reform Ministry has been extremely helpful for her.
“They have been phenomenal,” she said. “I can’t even put in words the support and love that I have felt. … I just appreciate being accepted and them even wanting to fight so I am impressed by the Nation of Islam. They have done me a great service. And they call and check on me every day. They keep me abreast of what’s going on, what’s next, they send everything to me, for me to look over.”
Abdullah Muhammad is the National Prison Reform Student Minister of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
Zackariah Muhammad visited Cameron recently, along with his mother, grandmother, and Michael 4X, a member of the Prison Reform Ministry.
“I had the opportunity to speak directly to Brother Cameron, assuring him of the Nation of Islam’s support,” Zackariah Muhammad said. “I emphasized that our commitment extends beyond religious affiliations, echoing Minister Farrakhan’s teachings that our mission is to uplift our people irrespective of class, creed, color, language, or labor. … We conveyed Minister Farrakhan’s love and support to Brother Cameron, affirming that our efforts will not cease until justice prevails.”
‘He keeps me going’
Ever since he was a young child, Cameron’s personality captivated people’s hearts. He was raised in the church and is an all-around good person, his mother says.
“I don’t know a person, even in the prison system, that does not love Cameron,” she said.
She recalled a time when he jumped out of the car to help an old woman who was in danger. She recalled another time when he gave his shoes to another student in school, who was being bullied because he had holes in his shoes.
“That’s just who he is,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said. “That’s the kind of kid that he is. He’s always had such a warm spirit.”
Cameron played football, basketball and also loves to sing. Despite what he’s been through, he remains in good spirits. “He is such an inspiration to everyone,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said. “He has been able to encourage me and keep me going. Because I was on the verge of breaking down and he would encourage me and you know the faith that he has is unbelievable. … But he has been unbelievably strong through this process, especially knowing that you shouldn’t even be there, but to be there and have to go through all that you’re going through. That’s a different type of beast.”
Cameron always wanted to be a motivational speaker. Because of his condition, his mental capability is similar to that of a child. However, his family has not given up on his dream.
“My brother, who is our pastor, has always told him, maybe this is the platform that God has put you on so you will be able to speak and encourage other people that are going through what you’re going through or to keep them from going through what you’re going through,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said.
Cameron is close with his three other brothers, who are 30, 24 and 23.
“I’ve watched all of my children change because of what’s going on with Cameron,” Ms. McIntyre Lowe said. “They’ve been depressed. They’ve been more withdrawn. There’s not a lot of family things that they want to do because they don’t want to do them without Cameron.”
Their fight for justice is far from over. The [Nation of Islam] Prison Reform Ministry is working on setting up a rally in Tallahassee, as well as other facilities where Cameron has been held.
Ms. McIntyre Lowe says she refuses to give up.
“Never stop fighting, especially when you know that they’re innocent,” she said. “But even if Cameron was guilty, nobody deserves to be put through what he’s been put through, at no fault of his own. Because if he was guilty, he could have served his time and been healthy and been able to appeal his case. He has a constitutional right to be able to appeal his case. He can’t do any of that and they took that away. So, I want people to know, keep fighting. God will send somebody willing to fight with you and never stop fighting for your baby.”
To stay up to date on upcoming events involving Ms. McIntyre Lowe’s fight, follow her on Facebook @Marsha McIntyre-Lowe and @ Instagram and TikTok @Marsha McIntyre Lowe.