Mumia Abu-Jamal: The illusion of correctional medicine

(c) 2017 by Mumia Abu-Jamal

In the netherworld of American prisons, one must jettison any medical assumptions one brings in from  the so-called “free” world.

We have been conditioned to see nurses as sweet sources of solace and doctors as people dedicated to healing the sick and easing our pains.

In prison, new rules govern medicine and care. Here, money is master; the ill are all but ignored. This may seem harsh but, I must assure you, reality is even harsher.

Recently, I wrote of jailhouse lawyer Dennis “Solo” McKeithan and his battle to get examined and treated for the painful nerve disorder known as shingles. As I read the trial transcript, I was struck by a question raised by the judge.

He asked essentially if the company hired by the DOC (Department of Corrections) to provide health care had a conflict because, as a private company, its interests were to make money by refusing to provide needed medications sought by patient-prisoners. The DOC medical staff witness denied his suggestion, but the judge had hit a nerve.

In prison, new rules govern medicine and care. Here, money is master; the ill are all but ignored.

From 2015 to today, my lawyers and I have been demanding real treatment for my hepatitis C infection. The DOC initially filed a false affidavit, which justified a U.S. magistrate’s dismissal of my suit. The DOC argued that my hepatitis was fine and that I could go years without treatment.

A federal judge disagreed and held a hearing which showed the affidavit was false – and, months later, declared the DOC’s so-called “protocol” – first disclosed at our hearing! – was unconstitutional.

The DOC fought back, arguing that my Hep C was at a relatively low level. The judge again disagreed, declared the “protocol” unconstitutional a second time, and ordered me treated within 21 days. The DOC essentially ignored the court order for two months – and earlier this week subjected me to more testing.

The results just came back. Not only do I have advanced hepatitis C, I have cirrhosis of the liver – Stage F4, because the DOC didn’t want to spend the money to treat my infection.

The DOC said it would cost them $400,000,000.

It may only cost me my life.

© Copyright 2017 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries. Send our brother some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

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