Apparently the state of Deleware has some problems with how they care for those unfortunate souls locked up in their jails. Wilmington’s News Journal recently concluded a six-month investigation into the state’s prison system. Uncovering an ongoing issue of inadequate medical treatment for inmates incarcerated and under the care of the state, the News Journal exposes an issue that I’m sure is widespread across the U.S.
It was 20 years ago that yours truly worked for the Indiana Department of Corrections, as a med tech in their medium security prison in Westville, Indiana. At the time, I was a wide-eyed 22-year-old, in need of a job in a state with a paucity of living wage options. With a young family and not many other options, I drove the 30 miles up U.S. Route 30, making my way to the walls of Westville Correctional Center, with hopes of a job that paid more than minimum wage.
That experience almost two decades ago, gave me a first-hand look at conditions inside many of America’s jails and correctional institutions. As I read sections of this four-part expose on Delaware’s incompetence and blatant disregard for the welfare of those under their care, I marvel at how many Americans are comfortable with our country’s archaic and barbaric treatment of many who made a mistake and got caught. Granted, there are those sociopaths and others who have committed violent crimes. But in our country, growing numbers of those locked up behind bars, with ever-increasing sentences, are for drugs and other non-violent offenses.
With an AID’s death rate that is the highest in the nation, the incompetence displayed by the state-contracted private health provider, CMS, reveals conditions that routinely violate constitutional provisions that require that states provide adequate medical care to inmates. CMS is one of the country’s largest providers of contracted medical services to correctional facilities across the fruited plane. They provide care to some 285,000 inmates in 360 facilities, located in 25 states.
For those right-wingers who subscribe to the philosophy towards prisoners that says, “lock ‘em up and throw away the key”, I might point out that the U.S. Constitution has prohibitions against “cruel and unusual punishment”. May I direct you to the Eighth Amendment?
With over 1.3 million Americans behind bars, the U.S. rate of incarceration is 2nd in the world, behind only Russia. Add to that number, nearly 1 million more in local and county jails, and you get a clearer picture of this country’s obsession with law and order and a form of justice that’s problematic at best.
Like so many aspects of life in America—capitalism and the drive for ever-increasing profits, makes a caricature of concepts such as justice. When prisons became just another tool for economic development, then dealing with issues of right and wrong, retribution, and rehabilitation take a back seat to good ole’ fashioned greed.