There is a stigma that implies prison healthcare is the best around. Everyone is stuck on the fact that it’s free and readily available to inmates. According to television, many people think prison healthcare gives all the necessary benefits and medicinal care to inmates. However, understaffed prisons can be deadly to inmates when they aren’t doing their jobs correctly. People have died in prison due to the negligent care of the staff and now that the government has been shut down, I can only think that it’s going to get worse.
According to The Washington Post, four or more inmates have died at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. Although it may not be recent, this wasn’t just a case of casual neglect. For over a six-year period, many women were ill and didn’t receive the proper care. The employees weren’t given the proper equipment either. In fact, it’s reported that while one woman was dying, there wasn’t any supplemental oxygen available. Days later, another inmate was in the same situation, without the needed oxygen. The article describes situations where an inmate was bleeding from her mouth, but instead of rushing to an emergency, the nurses casually walked in to view the inmate. They weren’t prepared for an emergency and had to wait to get a stretcher from the other side of the prison. The correctional institute failed to give vaccinations and preventive care, such as a colonoscopy. The article describes that a woman was later found to have colon cancer that spread to her liver. It’s also recorded that the nurses were improperly trained and were incorrectly diagnosing inmates, overdosing inmates, and ignoring odd vital signs.
Although I haven’t experienced the tragedy of these women, I know firsthand that medical care is really bad in prison. I have had my own experiences and they’re detailed in my book called Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp. I’ve also witnessed the uncaring and belittling attitudes of prison personnel. I know that the above situations aren’t far from true. I think that inmates have to learn to take care of themselves, but there are times when it just isn’t possible. Other than making sure people around you cover their mouths when they sneeze, or you frequently wash your hands, there isn’t much you can do.
Now that we’re in a situation where the government shutdown is requiring employees of federal correctional facilities to work without pay, I believe that facilities that were bad before the shutdown will be worse. USA Today describes how employees have been unfocused on their job duties since their debts have begun to pile up. Many of the workers were considered to have modest wages and were living paycheck to paycheck. It’s possible that they could be without finances for a while. That leaves inmates in a bad place. It was already hard to receive quality care from the staff members, but now this makes it possible for many inmates to never receive good medical care.
The government shutdown is turning an already bad problem into a horrendous tragedy for American workers and inmates. Without adequate staffing, inmates will be the ones to suffer unimaginable conditions. When prisons are understaffed, sicknesses can easily spread due to a lack of care. Perhaps this is part of the government’s plan. Even if the shutdown ends, when will prison healthcare get better?