While the majority of the more than a million and a half American prisoners are young, Black or Hispanic men, there are also old, white men, who are confined behind bars, here in the land of the free.
Today, our attention is focused on listening to those scream about the horrors of the Affordable Care Act as well as people who believe it will be good for the country. No one is thinking about prisoners, who legally are mandated to receive adequate medical care, and don’t.
To most people, these inmates are invisible. If a prisoner is seriously ill while incarcerated, he cannot just make an appointment with a doctor to be treated. Permission must be obtained. The visit must be scheduled. It may take weeks or months. It may never happen.
This is what is happening with my former husband. Time is ticking by, making surgery, should he ever receive it, a Band-Aid that would never be capable of curing his colon cancer.
He is at the mercy of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and their mantra appears to be Delay, Delay, Delay. Those who run the system seem to hope that a prisoner, who needs an expensive operation or treatment, will die before the BOP has to spend any more money on him.
Though he’s no longer cherished by me, he is by others and while he’s made mistakes in his life that most people find horrific, he is a human being. Once upon a time he was respected and competent in his job and loved by his family.
Governments do as many terrible things as individuals. Although regulations state that they have responsibility to provide medical care, the Bureau of Prisons behaves as if it’s trying to provide as little treatment as possible to those who are incarcerated. If a prisoner dies, due to neglect, it’s just the way things are. There’s no way to shake the slow moving agency into action.
Who cares, but a few family members and friends that he’s short of breath and weak, probably due to low blood volume? Who cares that he has an infection, with a lot of pus coming from his fistula and antibiotics were refused? Who cares that his pain is unbearable? Two Tylenol every six hours is not enough.
If the BOP was an individual, it would be arrested and most likely sentenced to prison for intentional inaction that allows seriously ill inmates to die.
I call that murder.
The suffering goes on and on.