After cancer diagnosis, Joe Exotic asks for prison release

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After cancer diagnosis, Joe Exotic asks for prison release

(NewsNation Now) — The man known as “Tiger King,” who gained fame in a Netflix documentary following his conviction for trying to hire someone to kill an animal rights activist, says he has cancer and wants out of prison.

He was prominently featured in the popular documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2020 after being convicted for violating federal wildlife laws and a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida.

Now, Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is barely a year into his term and wants to be released from prison.

Attorney Darren Kavinoky and host of “Deadly Sins” on Investigation Discovery doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.

“He wants compassionate release because he says he has prostate cancer,” he said. “But last I checked, there are loads and loads of infirmaries in prisons and lots of prisoners who get cancer. … How often does it actually happen that you can get out, you know, a year or so in?”

Compassionate release usually requires extraordinary and compelling reasons to justify that release. Historically, only a handful of prisoners win their freedom each year under the compassionate release program. 

Kavinoky said it will ultimately come down to how advanced Maldonado-Passage’s cancer is and if a judge believes he is likely to commit a crime again.

“What the court is ultimately concerned with are recidivism and public safety,” Kavinoky said. “And so there will be an opportunity for a full hearing in all likelihood, where we’ll get to learn some of these details.”

Season two of “Tiger King” is scheduled to be released by Netflix on Nov. 17.

Carole Baskin has sued Netflix, insisting footage of her and Big Cat Rescue be pulled from the upcoming sequel.

In the lawsuit, the Baskins claim that filmmakers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin originally approached them July 18, 2014, to appear in a “feature documentary on the wildlife trade” and “repeatedly emphasized that the intended goal for the project was to create a single documentary feature film that would be an exposé of the big cat breeding and cub petting trade.”

The Baskins agreed to participate in filming in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019, with more than 50 hours of footage involving the Baskins and Big Cat Rescue.

Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida Virginia M. Hernandez Covington denied Baskin’s request for a temporary restraining order.

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The Associated Press and Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.

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