Ang Perrier

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Health care covered by tax payers for incarcerated individuals?

Tax dollars are used every day to provide inmates with health care, often times covering extremely expensive procedures. The tax payers are also responsible for covering sex offender treatment and chemical dependency treatment.

What are your arguments for and against this?

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    Nov 19 2013: Why should we withdraw benefits for people who can't help themselves, yet all pay out of pocket for people who simply won't help themselves?
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    Nov 19 2013: Ang, I worked in the prison system and have seen it abused by inmates and questionable calls by the health care specialists. I have transported inmates over 300 miles one way to see a eye doctor. No specialist just a plain ole eye doctor. Inmates who refuse to have readings taken for diabetes shots and then sue over lack of / poor treatment. If a inmate is at recreation then he will not go to medical for his appointment. Inmates who want sex changes and if denied will begin the process themselves by self mutilation. Thus getting their way by default.

    The problem with this suggestion is that inmates are the ward of the state and we, the citizens, are responsible for their health and welfare even against their efforts to the contrary.

    It is laughable to listen to Mexico berate the US for the way we "mistreat" Mexican citizens in US prisons. The prison standards in Mexico is deplorable even by third world standards.

    Do we need to draw some lines to abate the high costs ... yeah. Now, where do you draw that line.

    Suggestion: We have a bare bones health care plan for indigent personal in our state. Put all the inmates under that system and lower the appointment costs that are up to 300% when paid by Dept of Corrections. I am sure it is not that simple but it is a place to start looking for savings.

    All the best. Bob.
  • Nov 18 2013: Well, if we're concerned with children and others having healthcare maybe we should have universal healthcare like every other first world country. Then this would all be a moot point.

    We are a very retributive society. We're always so concerned thar we might not be cruel enough to people we think deserve it. So much so that the thought of accidetally providing too much healthcare to an unserserving person is more if a concern than depriving a wrongfully convicted person of life or liberty.

    For example, I met the first person ever exonerted from death row by DNA. he spent nine years in prison. By your estimate if he had needed surgery or a transplant he should not have received it and perhaps died as a result. The death of an innocent man in prison is more acceptable than an innocent person out of prison simply because he happened to be in prison.

    I am not a "hug a thug" individual but I do recognize that being in prison is not a reflection of individual worth. Likewise not being in prison is not an indicator of decency or merit either.
  • Nov 18 2013: We pay for their food, their clothing, their shelter, too. Is it your contention that we simply should put them in pens and provide no provision for them? Hope someone you know doesn't get locked up for a non-violent misdemeanor for a couple of weeks. He'd be the corpse-dee-lite on the cannibal feast.
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      Nov 18 2013: I don't don't how to respond to that without sounding overly harsh.

      By provisions are you including cable? Netflix? A fully equipped gym? Same day doctor appointments? Clothing, shelter, food, yes these are all necessary. What do you think of the others I've mentioned?
      • Nov 18 2013: I think it's a matter of what is empirically determined to be most conducive to obtaining the chosen goal of incarceration. That returns us to picking a single goal and sticking to it.
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          Nov 18 2013: What would you decide on as the goal of incarceration?
  • Nov 18 2013: Your questions needs to be fleshed out a bit more. Do you mean programs offered in the prisons? Or are you talking about programs mandated by sentencing after release? There is a big difference.
    Generally, if it occurs while in prison it will be paid for, however, if it is a program the person is required to be part of after release then it depends on the state whether it is paid for or not. Sometimes they have to pay for it themselves.
    Programs offered in prison are not indicative of any sort of "bleeding hearts". I worked in corrections for a few years and one of the primary things that is taught in training is "bored inmates are dangerous inmates". Dangerous inmates riot, cause fights, sexually assault other inmates, etc. Those things cost a lot of money in damage to property, L&I claims, lawsuits, lock downs, etc. Suffice to say, TV, rec times, classes, and treatment keep them otherwise occupied.
    Programs outside of prison are aimed at reducing recidivism, but whether or not that works, or is worthwhile is a huge discussion as it depends on the treatment, the offender, and other circumstances. Generally, I don't feel like it is beneficial to force people into any kind of treatment. People who do not want to be at treatment generally don't benefit from it much - if at all.
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      Nov 18 2013: You're exactly right, boredom definitely leads to big problems and treatment doesn't work on those who don't want to be treated.

      There are many inexpensive ways we could occupy the inmates' time yet we choose costly methods in the pursuit of reducing recidivism.

      The US incarcerates the highest number of people in the world and continue to raise those numbers year after year.

      I'm more interested in your thoughts on the amount we spend on medical care.
      • Nov 18 2013: Well there maybe more inexpensive ways to keep people occupied but would you rather they play basketball or take a classn that MAYBE will trigger something that gets them to change in some positive way?

        As for the cost of healthcare to me that is more of a moral question than one of practicality. With the exception of infectious diseases. Prisons and jails are full of infectious disease such as MRSA and TB for example. When peoole are released they bring those diseases out to the public. Given their limited access to health care when out of prison they may go untreated or rely on hospitals for treatment. That is a very real public health concern.

        As for other illnesses and dental care one argument has always been that you're going to pay for it anyway when they going to public health or hospitals. Under the new healthcare laws...well you're still paying for it since most of them will be on Medicare.

        The moral aspect is this...not everyone in prison is unredeemable. Some people are wrongly convicted. Some are there for victimless crimes like possessing drugs. Lets say that such a person needs treatment for heart disease (not alcohol related) are you ok with letting that person die? Just because they happen to be in prison.

        When I was in grad school a veteran law enforcement officer told one of my classes that about 90% of people have done something that could have resulted in being convicted of a felony. A lot of people in prison aren't evil. They're ordinary people who made terribly stupid mistakes. I remeber one guy who opened fire on a car of individuals who tried to run him over on his own property. He killed five or six people in the car. The individuals in the car had been causing problems all over town before they showed up on his property. He didn't know them. He went to prison for murder. Things aren't black and white in criminal justice unfortunately.
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          Nov 18 2013: I just wonder if there might be a way to make sure that no inmate receives treatment or surgery that is not available to a child or someone who is deserving and not incarcerated.

          There is a need for inmates to have access to care, there's no denying that.
      • Nov 18 2013: The problem is that we can't decide what we want to do. Do we want to rehabilitate? Do we want to strike fear of society into their hearts? Do we want to encourage religious penitence? All of these conflicting goals operate in American prisons. We need to pick one and stick to it.
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          Nov 18 2013: I so wholeheartedly agree with you there.

          We keep trying to do everything with everyone and that's going so well (sarcasm btw :)
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      Nov 18 2013: The right to life? We have the death penalty in certain states. The right to liberty? They're locked up. The right to the pursuit of happiness? Well...

      Let's take a look at this for a minute. "Are American persons in prison no longer American citizens?" Do they have the right to vote? The right to bare arms? The right to serve in the military? The right to travel the world?

      "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States..." ???
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          Nov 18 2013: Are you aware of the frequency with which we release terminally ill inmates from prison? Define needed health care? And then define needed health care for inmates, are they the same definition word for word?

          Would you define a just society as one in which we assign a therapist to meet with an incarcerated child molester 3 times a week to discuss all of his pressing issues yet fails to provide equal therapy to the victim?
        • Nov 18 2013: Deterrence fails. This has been well documented. What works is retraining and viable alternatives to returning to crime once incarceration ends. "Tough" prisons do not reduce recidivism. They do, however, satisfy the primitive urge for vengeance, but why go halfway about that? If vengeance is the thing, bring back public flogging, public executions, chain gangs, etc.
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    Nov 17 2013: I think covering the basic health care needs are a necessity, however, I wouldn't support anything beyond that.
    Treatments such as sex offender treatments should be covered by the prisoner himself. Release from prison should be based on the condition that he went through the treatment and is no risk to society anymore. If he can't come up with the money, then no freedom for him.
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      Nov 17 2013: "...on the condition that he went throught he treatment and is NO RISK to society anymore."

      A judicial system that determines sentences to be conditional and not conrete time limits? Think that could ever happen?

      We have started to civilly commit certain individuals and sex offender treatment continues after we've determined that they will never again be let out into society.
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        Nov 17 2013: It does happen. Think about the parole hearings. If the inmate doesn't meat conditions for parole he isn't released. Not going through a required treatment could just be such a condition.
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          Nov 17 2013: An inmate may get a parole hearing to inquire about getting out prior to the end of his sentence. His sentence is still a set and concrete time frame.

          In MN inmates serve 2/3 time. Any inmate may be elligible to get out on supervised release after serving 2/3 of the sentence time. If that inmate behaves poorly while inside then due process iwithin the institution can extend his time out through that last 3rd but not past his full sentence.

          Whether the inmate has completed treatment or not, upon the date his sentence expires he is released.
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        Nov 17 2013: If a murderer for example gets 25 to life in prison, that means he has to spend at least 25 years and only after that can be paroled if he meets the conditions.
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          Nov 17 2013: Murderers make up a small percentage of the inmate population here in the US. Most of these individuals are serving sentences less than 10 years and getting out in under 7.

          A majority of these guys come from poverty and therefore had very little preventive care prior to being incarcerated. Due to drug and alcohol abuse ravaging their bodies the condition they show up in is generally haggard.
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        Nov 18 2013: Ang, murderers was just an example to make my point.
        As to inmates coming from underprivileged environments: this might well be true, but this is a different kind of issue.
        What we need here is preventive measures, to avoid environments conductive to crime in the first place.
        But, even coming from such environments, it's still no excuse to become a criminal. There are many poor people that are honest and decent. As a matter of fact, I'd say that's the majority.
  • Nov 16 2013: There are large amounts of money being spent on the prison systems to maintain the inmates who are there.

    Basic health care is a need in the prison systems. But excessive levels of care should not be provided either. I am not saying go back to the day and age of "here bite on this stick while I dump alcohol on the wound to clean it" but I don't see massive levels of care being spent on inmates as a need, necessity, or duty of out citizenry.

    Basic care yes. Treat wounds, meet medical needs, treat initial drug addiction issues, etc. are definitely what we should be doing. Now, some of that care is provided at an inflated cost due to drug company sales of supplies and so on. However, like everything else, there simply needs to be a level at which we, the tax paying public and government say no. This is what most health care plans say, including (though it opens a can of worms) the Affordable Health Care Act. Meet basic needs and that is it. Figure out the level at which it is no longer a necessity and treat up to that level only.

    Extremely expensive procedures, at the expense of the public dollar, should be taken on a case by case basis. Is it medically necessary? Is it cost prohibitive? Why this procedure?

    Let's face one simple fact, these are incarcerated individuals, usually for a reason. Are we looking to extend their life so that they can be in prison longer? That doesn't make sense.
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      Nov 17 2013: "...needs to be al evel at which we, the tax paying public and government say no."

      I wonder who is it in the tax paying public who would say yes? I don't seem to converse with many or any individuals who agree that we should be covering all medical expenses that incarcerated individuals can incur. Seeing how our gov. is supposed to be a reflection of how we the tax paying public desire to be goverened, who is it deciding that we should be paying, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single inmate?
      • Nov 17 2013: Ang, therein lies a very deep rabbit hole of where this money goes and how it is spent.

        Most often, it is spent without input from the taxpayer for items that may or may not be necessary. Look at the spending at the federal level for the military as one example. It is a huge part of the budget and that funding is not approved by the public rather its representatives. But let's be honest, there is a lot of necessary spending, but there is also a percentage of spending that just lines people's pockets.

        Ultimately, someone or some group has to make the decision on how and where that money is spent. The question of "who is deciding that we should be paying..." is the deep dark rabbit hole. Especially when you ask the question, "What should be covered?" This will come up very quickly with the AHA as it comes into play. There will come a time when the realization hits that not everyone can have everything rather only medically necessary. But who gets to decide what is medically necessary? And is it the same for everyone or different for everyone?

        The inmate population has had a small impact on society with these issues, in relative terms. That would be an interesting thread to explore though. Assuming that everyone should have medical insurance, "What level of insurance should you be covered at to preserve quality of life and be fiscally responsible?"
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          Nov 17 2013: I just wonder how that money could have been allocated if it wasn't being spent on our vast and ever growing inmate population.

          "...has had a small impact on society...in relative terms." Maybe, unless you start thinking about the budget cuts to our public education system over the last 20 years. What happens to disadvantaged youth who are lacking proper resources to get the best education they possibly can?
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    Nov 14 2013: I'm all in favour of this, just because it dignifies this civilization and the people living in it.
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      Nov 15 2013: Do you mind expounding on that somewhat? Dignifies civilization in what way?
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        Nov 15 2013: I don't know if I can expound much. I just happen to believe that human beings deserve health care.
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          Nov 16 2013: I agree with you. People deserve to have access to health care that wont completely bankrupt them.

          Just curious, are you familiar with the prison system in the United States?
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        Nov 17 2013: Educate me
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          Nov 18 2013: According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, the state spends about $75 million on inmate health care. They say this figure does not include emergency run and mental health care – just basic health care.

          Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

          PORTLAND — Health care costs for Oregon prison inmates have reached about $100 million a year and keep increasing as the state deals with inmates who are getting older and sicker, including one woman with kidney disease who cost the state about $1.1 million last year.

          By The Associated Press
          Published: June 21. 2011 4:00AM PST

          The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world today. As of 2009[update], the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of national population (0.743%).

          From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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          Nov 18 2013: That's not much of an education but you can see that there is difinitely a difference between our prison system here and the systems in place in other countries around the world.

          I know of a case where an inmate is receiving treatment on a disease which costs the state $200,000 a week.
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        Nov 18 2013: Well bravo USA for setting the example if not in citizen healthcare, at least in inmate healthcare.
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          Nov 18 2013: Some example right? :)
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          Nov 18 2013: This conversation is discussing inmate health care. The staggering amounts of money spent on defense is a topic that I could get exhausted discussing but it's not the one I've chosen to focus on here.
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        Nov 18 2013: What's your opinion on this?