An Excerpt from Felon: The New Slur Word by Justin Guyton
Chapter 7: Inhumane Conditions
One of the issues that prisoners face in maintaining their health is the inadequate medical treatment that is given to prisoners. We all know that medical treatment isn’t cheap, but just because a person is incarcerated doesn’t mean that they don’t have the right to adequate care. The nursing staff and the majority of the doctors suggest the same remedy for pretty much any health issue a prisoner may face: “Take these ibuprofen, drink lots of water, and get some rest.” They know that this one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t solve most problems that are brought to their attention, but this is one of the many tactics that are used in an attempt to save money at the expense of the prisoners’ health. These same individuals who took an oath to provide adequate care to those that they encounter are doing the exact opposite. Depending on the illness, this type of ploy can often result in tragedy.
Some years back, I had a friend that for the point of this story I won’t reveal his name out of respect for his family. This friend was serving a three-year sentence that he’d almost completed. As a means of escape in addition to staying in shape he would work out regularly.
I’d ended up being moved to another housing unit due to the dormitory that I was previously in was being used to house prisoners whom were lacking their GED. Though no longer in the same dorm, my friend and I would cross paths regularly. A few weeks after I was moved, my friend tragically passed away at twenty-three years old.
After experiencing chest pains, my friend informed his dorm C/O’s [correctional officers] that he needed medical attention. The C/O’s called medical and explained what was going on. Whoever was working in medical third shift told the C/O’s to tell the prisoner that he would have to submit a health care request form in the morning in order for him to be examined. Now mind you even though my friend was relatively young, he was experiencing chest pains, an issue that should’ve resulted in the medical staff coming to his dorm within a matter of minutes to examine him.
Once given the health care request form to fill out, my friend laid down on his rack and fell asleep. The following morning it was discovered by fellow prisoners who tried to wake my friend up for chow that he was unresponsive. The actions of a few medical staff members, or shall I say the lack thereof, resulted in the loss of a human being’s life.
This occurs more often than the public knows since medical negligence is easily hidden when it involves individuals who are confined within an institutional setting such as a prison. Then with a core group of medical professionals who look at the individuals who seek treatment as prisoners first, and human beings second, there will always be a huge problem when it comes to the care that’s rendered in institutional settings.
Furthermore, if the policies that fuel mass incarceration were reformed, thus causing a reduction in the overall prison population, the medical resources wouldn’t be strained. Most institutions’ medical departments are understaffed in an effort to simply save money. The money that’s being saved from cutting corners causes more harm to everyone involved in the institutional setting. If you want to save money, the logical solution is to quit incarcerating people at alarming rates.