Friday, June 8, 2012

Pain is, indeed, cruel

In this prisoner advocacy business, it seems like we're always on the defensive.

A prisoner may make a claim that he/she has been wronged, but that's not going to be accepted at face value.

Every claim by a prisoner is challenged. Always. it's what the prison system does.

I find this especially frustrating when the prisoner is in pain.

It's one thing to make a claim that a medical issue is being ignored, and that symptoms are not being treated...but it seems to me that the situation changes when the prisoner is in such pain that it affects his daily routine.

We're working on two cases right now that seem to demand corrective surgery: One involves a torn ligament of the knee dating back to 2007, and the second involves a fractured shoulder dating back to 2009. According to the inmates, surgery was indicated at the time of the injury but still has not been performed.

And the arguments seem to vary as to why the surgery is being delayed, although cost is obviously at the top of the list. Besides that, one doctor just tells one of the prisoners to man up and put up with the pain until he gets released in the next year or two.

But in both cases there is excruciating pain. The man with the shoulder injury claims to get only a few hours of sleep a night before being awakened by pain.

And as an advocate for these prisoners, we get more opposition on the outside. Doctors aren't anxious to help, and suggest we contact state legislators. Attorneys say it's awfully hard to beat the state. Officials within the system say we don't know the full story.

Meanwhile the prisoner lives in pain, which I find maddening.

That's why it was so refreshing to talk to one of our legal consultants today who explained that an amendment to our constitution specifically prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and yes, EVEN OF PRISONERS!

And if it can be proven that these authorities are refusing surgery that is medically deemed necessary, just because it costs too much or because they want the prisoner to wait until he gets out, there's a remedy through the federal court system to deal with this.

Thank you, Brad.

Somebody is finally making some sense.

Unnecessary pain can be cruel and unusual punishment for you or for me...and also for those persons behind bars.

My suggestion to Brad: Let's roll.

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