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[Medical Care] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 40]
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Hailey Care: Heathcare Disaster in South Carolina

While imprisoned on one of South Carolina's 27 prisons, I've come to understand that Hailey Care is a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control. Hailey Care offers prisoners poor nutrition, medical neglect, ignoring medical complaints, deliberate indifference to medical needs, improper diagnosis and failure to provide prescribed medication.

Nikki Hailey, a Republican and South Carolina's first female Governor, is responsible for this system. So far Hailey Care has meant a denial of medical care for a lot of Black prisoners, especially for older prisoners. Doctors who come to work for the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) usually have less than stellar records, come from other states where they have been barred and/or have an array of sanctions. Perhaps for South Carolina and its medical board it's a case of "political unaccountability" and an indifference to the human lives of its lumpenproletariat class.

One case in point was Dr. Paul C. Drago (lic # 9700531), barred from three states: New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. He's listed as a plastic surgeon, and was hired by the SCDC, but after many complaints he was said to have resigned. The SCDC then brought in Physician Assistant Gregory Schaller, who time and time again exhibited intolerance towards the medical needs of Blacks. After much resistance he too resigned.

I'm currently under care of Dr. Robert Sharp, an Osteopath. I went to see Dr. Sharp and I requested medicated shampoo for psoriasis of my scalp. I also informed him that I was indigent and could not afford shampoo from the canteen. His reply: "I'm Jewish and a tax payer and I'm not ordering shampoo for an African American's hair." Because I reported his racial remarks to human resource staff person Ms. Wright, a member of the predominately Black "overseers" here at the Ridgeland plantation, I was labeled a liar and given a sanction of 15 hours extra duty.

As of the writing of this article, I'm in need of glasses, and am being denied treatment for sleep deprivation and a degenerative nerve disorder. Just today I reported the fact that I have holes in the bottom of my "crocks." I was told I have to wait a month, while under the auspices of Hailey Care. I will continue to speak out about the inadequate health care abuse in South Carolina's prison kamps.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We've written extensively about the failure of capitalism to provide adequate healthcare so it's no surprise that the healthcare provided in South Carolina prisons is even more dangerous to the health of prisoners.(1) In previous articles we've exposed Dr. Drago's incompetence on our website. The dismissal/"resignation" of him and his equally incompetent successor are tactical victories, no doubt in response to the complaints and bad press. We encourage all readers to follow this comrade's example in exposing abuse in all forms, including medical neglect and malpractice. While we cannot create a system of healthcare that provides adequately for all under capitalism, we may save some lives by stopping the most dangerous practices. We can even use this information to educate people about the need to put an end to imperialism, a system that lets people suffer and die around the world with no interest in the health of the majority of the world's people.

For those interested in alternative healthcare systems to the ones failing us currently, we recommend studying how the public health standard was raised in communist China under Mao. We distribute a number of books on this topic through our Free Boos for Prisoners Program.

Note: See ULKs 12, 15, and 34.[

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[Spanish] [Medical Care]
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Acta de Cuidado Accesible Subraya la Necesidad por Mundial Cobertura de Salud

Abril 1 - El plazo para inscribirse en el seguro de salud bajo el Acta de Cuidado Accesible (ACA) pasó anoche, y ahora hay 4.4 millones de personas en los Estados Unidos recientemente inscritos en planes de seguro de salud Medicaid patrocinado por el gobierno federal.(1) Aquellos quienes no se inscribieron en alguna aseguranza y no están protegidos por un plan a través de su familia, trabajo o escuela encararán multas. Para personas con ingresos menores al 400% de la "linea de pobreza" federal, los planes son subsidiados por el gobierno, y aquellos con 138% de este corte o menos recibirán cuidado de salud gratis por Medicaid. Al final, para al menos la clase mas baja la sanción les costará mas de lo que les costaría teniendo seguro de salud.

Este nuevo sistema de cuidado de la salud en los Estados Unidos, y frecuentemente llamado "Obamacare," esta lejos de ser socialista, pero esto sirve como un buen recordatorio de los fracasos del capitalismo para cuidar de algunas de las necesidades básicas de ciudadanos del país imperialista. Los Estados Unidos había tenido cuidado de salud dirigido por el gobierno para personas en el servicio militar y sus familias desde los años 1800s, y para los relativamente pobres, discapacitados y ancianos desde los años 1960s con la creación de Medicare y Medicaid. Pero estos programas sirven a una minoría de Americanos, dejando a el resto buscar cuidado de salud a través de aseguradas proporcionadas por sus trabajos o a través de planes comprados privadamente o por pagar directamente por esos servicios. Esto significa que gente sin trabajo o en labores que no proporcionan cobertura de salud son frecuentemente dejados sin seguros de salud. El ACA intenta dirigir este problema proporcionando un programa dirigido por el gobierno para ayudar a asegurar ciudadanos sin cobertura medica.

No estamos asumiendo las criticas de los que dicen que la calidad del cuidado de la salud se iría abajo si es dirigida por el gobierno Americano. Esas mismas personas anularían la educación gratuita universal, privatizarían la distribución del agua, y eliminarían el departamento de Bomberos. Esto es un debate entre diferentes facciones de la burguesía y no merece el tiempo de los comunistas, solo señalar que tenemos fundamentalmente diferentes valores. No tenemos necesidad de defender la habilidad de un gobierno capitalista para dirigir estos programas bien porque no apoyamos gobiernos capitalistas. Y sabemos que el motivo del beneficio no hace más grande la "eficacia" como a los capitalistas les gusta afirmar. Vemos esto claramente en los Estados Unidos donde la comida es tirada en vez de distribuirla a personas hambrientas, y el tremendo desperdicio de dinero en publicidad en vez de satisfacer sus necesidades básicas.

Opinamos acerca del cuidado de salud de la misma manera que opinamos acerca de la educación, comida, agua limpia y otras necesidades básicas. Estas son cosas que comunistas buscan proporcionar para todas las personas sin distinción. Damos prioridad a necesidades básicas humanas por encima de artículos de lujo como botes, lujosos carros, grandes casas, televisiones, etc. Capitalismo, por otra parte, ha demostrado que artículos lujosos rentables son una prioridad por encima de las necesidades básicas humanas. Mientras en una cuestión de años de capitalismo han conseguido computadoras manuales en las manos de alguien con un poco de poder adquisitivo, las décadas de larga lucha contra las fácilmente evitables enfermedades en el tercer mundo continúa. Millones de niños de menos de cinco años de edad mueren cada año en el sur de Asia y Africa del Sur de el Sahara como un resultado. Creemos que el Acta de Cuidado Accesible ofrecería a estas personas servicios de cuidado de salud gratis. Mientras el ACA ha demostrado una y otra vez que pequeñas reformas en capitalismo pueden ser logradas cuando ellas sirvan los intereses de ciudadanos del país imperialista, capitalismo nunca permitirá reformas para mejorar todo el resto del mundo. De hecho, aún dentro de las fronteras de Estados Unidos los no ciudadanos son no elegibles para asegurarse bajo el ACA. Estos más en necesidad, trabajando las más duras y más peligrosas labores por menos dinero, les son todavía negados cuidados de salud básicos.

Mientras es fácil para Americanos el ignorar lo que pasa afuera de sus fronteras, esto sería una verguenza para el imperialismo Americano que el individualismo de estos ciudadanos es tan fuerte que hasta ahora ellos han rechazado cuidado de salud para aún sus propios relativamente acomodados ciudadanos. Aún ahora, muchos a través del país continúan peleando y resistiendo esta nueva ley. Previo al Acta de Cuidado Accesible (Affordable Care Act), Americanos quienes quieren comprar seguros de salud privados fueron frecuentemente rechazados por los planes de salud por "preexistentes condiciones." Esto significa que planes de salud fueron seleccionando únicamente a los individuos más saludables para asegurarse, dejando a estos con aún menor historia de problemas de salud sin recursos porque la mayoría de planes de salud en los Estados Unidos son dirigidos privadamente para un beneficio. Ahora más aseguranzas en este país están todavía dirigidos para un beneficio, pero los gobiernos Federal y del Estado proporcionan estándares mínimos de cuidado que tienen que ser proveídos con cada póliza, y vender estos aprobados planes de aseguranza en un mercado, en espera que la competición de mercado inherente en capitalismo incrementará la calidad y transparencia mientras reduciendo el costo.

Aboliendo el cuidado de salud por beneficio será una prioridad para comunistas cuando tomemos el control de un gobierno. Queremos hacer tratamiento de cuidado preventivo disponible para toda la gente. La nueva ley ACA en los Estados Unidos no elimina aseguranzas privadas ni remueve el beneficio de cuidado de la salud, y esto es un paso fundamentalmente corto hacia cobertura universal para America. Pero esto permite a las personas conseguir seguros de salud a pesar de sus ingresos o condiciones de salud. Para ciudadanos Americanos esto es progreso. Y para la mayoría esto es parte del actual soborno de estos ciudadanos por los imperialistas, asegurando su lealtad al sistema imperialista. Sin embargo, un gran numero de los no asegurados en los Estados Unidos viene de la nación oprimida de la clase mas baja, y esto es un paso positivo para la supervivencia y la vida saludable de este grupo con un interés material en revolución.(3) Total vemos el ACA como un paso progresivo hacia cuidado de salud universal para todos en el mundo, ojalá porque esto demuestra el concepto de cuidado de salud como un derecho básico.

Continuaremos peleando por cuidado de salud para los explotados y oprimidos del mundo, quienes son principalmente encontrados en el tercer mundo, donde aún servicios médicos básicos son difíciles de obtener. 801,000 niños menores de cinco años mueren de diarrea cada año, la mayoría de los cuales son causadas por falta de acceso a agua limpia e higiene. Mas de 3 millones de personas mueren de enfermedades evitables por vacuna cada año. 86% de las muertes entre niños menores de 5 años son evitables y debido a contagios, enfermedades tratables, problemas de nacimiento y falta de nutrición. Estos abrumadores números costarían muy poco de rectificar. Cuidado Universal Verdadero de salud es una prioridad para comunistas, y las estadísticas arriba son justo unas pocas razones del porqué el derrocamiento del capitalísmo es literalmente un asunto de vida o muerte para la mayoría de la gente en el mundo.


Notas:
1. "317 millones de razones para querer Obamacare." CNN, 31 de Marzo 2014
2. Naciones Unidadas, Millennium Development Goals Report, 2013.
3. Ignorando nacionalidad, cerca de los 48 millones de los no ancianos no asegurados ciudadanos de Estados Unidos están abajo de el nuevo recorte por Medicaid según a el Kaiser Family Foundation.

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[Medical Care] [ULK Issue 38]
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Affordable Care Act Underscores Need for Global Health Coverage

healthcare
While capitalism advances technology and produces consumables at high rates, most people lack decent health care
April 1 - The deadline for enrollment in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed last night, and there are now 4.4 million people in the United $tates newly enrolled in Medicaid health insurance plans sponsored by the federal government, and another 8 million people newly enrolled in government-regulated private insurance plans.(1) Those who do not enroll in any insurance and are not covered by a plan through their family, work or school will face fines. For people with incomes less than 400% of the federal "poverty line," the plans are subsidized by the government, and those with less than 138% of this cut off will receive free health care via Medicaid. In the end, for at least the lumpen class the penalty will actually cost them more than having health insurance would cost.

This new healthcare system in the United $tates, often called "Obamacare," is far from socialist, but it does serve as a good reminder of the failures of capitalism to care for some of the basic needs of imperialist country citizens. The United $tates has had government-run healthcare for military service people and their families since the 1800s, and for the relatively poor, disabled and elderly since the 1960s with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. But these programs serve a minority of Amerikans, leaving the rest to seek health care through insurance provided by their work or through privately purchased plans or by paying directly for services. This means that people out of work or in jobs that don't provide insurance coverage are often left without any health insurance. The ACA attempts to address this problem by providing a government-run program to help insure citizens without coverage.

We're not going to take on the critics who say that health care quality would go down if run by the Amerikan government. These same people would abolish free universal education, privatize water distribution, and eliminate the fire department. This is a debate between different factions of the bourgeoisie, and not worth the time of communists, except to point out that we have fundamentally different values. We have no need to defend the ability of a capitalist government to run these programs well because we don't support capitalist governments. And we know that the profit motive does not make for greater "efficiency", as capitalists like to claim. We see this clearly in the United $tates where food is dumped rather than distributed to people going hungry, and the tremendous waste of money on advertising rather than meeting basic needs.

Communists think about health care the same way we think about education, food, clean water and other basic necessities. These are things we seek to provide to all people indiscriminately. We prioritize basic humyn needs over luxury items like boats, fancy cars, big houses, TVs, etc. Capitalism, on the other hand, functions on the concept that profitable luxury items are a priority over basic humyn needs. While in a matter of years capitalism has gotten hand-held computers into the hands of anyone with a little disposable income, the decades-long struggle against easily preventable diseases in the Third World continues. Millions of children under five years old die each year in southern Asia and Africa south of the Sahara as a result. We believe that the Affordable Care Act should offer these people free health care services as well. While the ACA has proven once again that small reforms in capitalism can be achieved when they serve the interests of imperialist country citizens, capitalism will never allow reforms to improve the lot of the rest of the world. In fact, even within U.$. borders non-citizens are not eligible for insurance under the ACA. Those most in need, working the hardest and most dangerous jobs for the least money, are still denied basic health care.

While it's easy for Amerikans to ignore what goes on outside of their borders, it should be an embarrassment for Amerikan imperialism that the individualism of its citizens is so strong that until now they had refused health care to even their own relatively well-off citizens. Even now, many across the country continue to fight and resist this new law. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, Amerikans who wanted to buy health insurance on their own were often rejected by the health plans for "pre-existing conditions." This means the health plans were picking only the healthiest individuals for insurance, leaving those with even minor history of health problems with no recourse because most insurance plans in the United $tates are privately run for a profit. Now most insurance in this country is still run for profit, but the federal and state governments provide minimum standards of care that must be provided with every policy, and sell these approved insurance plans on a marketplace, in hopes that the market competition inherent in capitalism will increase quality and transparency while reducing cost.

Abolishing the profit motive behind health care will be a priority for communists when we take control of a government. We want to make preventive care and treatment available to all people. The new ACA law in the United $tates does not eliminate private insurance or remove the profit from health care, and it's a fundamentally timid step towards universal coverage for Amerikans. But it does enable people to get health insurance regardless of income or health status. For Amerikan citizens this is progress. And for most it is part of the ongoing bribery of these citizens by the imperialists, ensuring their allegiance to the imperialist system. However, a large number of the uninsured in the United $tates come from the oppressed nation lumpen class, and the ACA is a positive step for the survival and healthy living of this group which has a relatively high material interest in revolution.(3) Overall we see the ACA as a progressive step towards universal health care for everyone in the world, if only because it demonstrates the concept of health care as a basic right.

We will continue to fight for health care for the world's exploited and oppressed, who are mostly found in the Third World, where even basic medical services are difficult to obtain. 801,000 children under age 5 die from diarrhea each year, most of which are caused by lack of access to clean water and sanitation. More than 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year. 86% of deaths among children under age 5 are preventable and due to communicable, treatable disease, birth issues and lack of nutrition. These abysmal numbers would cost very little to rectify. Truly universal health care is a priority for communists, and the statistics above are just a few reasons why the overthrow of capitalism is literally a life or death issue for the majority of the world's people.

Notes:
1. "317 Million Reasons to Love Obamacare", CNN, 31 March 2014
2. United Nations, Millennium Development Goals Report, 2013.
3. Ignoring nationality, about half of the 48 million nonelderly uninsured U.$. citizens are below the new cutoff for Medicaid according to the Kaiser Family Foundation

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[Abuse] [Medical Care] [Mental Health] [Campaigns] [State Correctional Institution Albion] [Pennsylvania]
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Pennsylvania Prisoners Petition to End Torture and Abuse

MIM(Prisons) received this petition from one of our readers. We print it here in full because it does a good job exposing the neglect and abuse at SCI Albion. We do sometimes engage in petitioning government officials for reforms in prison, though petitions with such a broad scope of abuses do not have a history of success. Nonetheless, campaigns such as this one are important educational tools and we hope this one inspires activists to get involved in fighting the criminal injustice system in Pennsylvania. Our one point of disagreement is with the introductory quote from the Anarchist organizer Anthony Rayson: as we have repeatedly demonstrated, prisons are not "for-profit" and in fact take a big loss subsidized by the U.$. government.

A Call to End Oppression: United We Stand

"Prisons aren't about crime control, they're about for-profit repression. In fact they are a huge, government-run, criminal enterprise wildly profitable, & completely paid for by ripped-off taxpayers." - Anthony Rayson

The State Correctional Institution Albion in Western Pennsylvania, is a notorious prison for frequent abuse & torture of prisoners, some are held years in solitary confinement without any chance to see daylight, medical negligence has led to the suffering and death of thousands of prisoners. Lack of adequate mental health care has driven many to commit suicide. The taxpayer's money is being used to prop up an untamed beast that only the people of Pennsylvania can stop.

We ask that you support the struggle for humane conditions and rehabilitation by signing the attached petition, copying it, and mail it to the listed officials, or sacrifice a few minutes of your time by calling the officials and stating the demands/issues in the petition.


Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
202-353-1555

Secretary of Corrections
John E. Wetzel
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
717-728-0312

Senator Ronald Waters
6027 Ludlow St - Unit A
Philadelphia, PA 19112
215-748-6712

Senator Shirley Kitchen
1701 W. Lehigh Ave, Suite 107
Philadelphia, PA 19132
214-227-6161

Senator Le Anna Washington
1555-A Wadsworth Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19150
215-272-0475

Governor Tom Corbett
225 Capitol Bldg
Harrisburg, PA 17120
717-787-2500



Public Complaint & Petition
To: U.S. Department of Justice
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania State Senators
Secretary of Corrections John E. Wetzel

From:

Date:

Re: Stop prisoner abuse - inadequate medical/mental health treatment & care - real rehabilitation
This petition comes pursuant to and in full compliance with the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution and Pennsylvania Constitution Article 1 Section 20; the people have the authority to petition government officials and to redress of grievances.

Inadequate Mental Health Treatment

SCI Albion officials are not providing adequate mental health treatment to mentally ill prisoners that are warehoused in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) (Solitary Confinement) that exacerbates their mental deterioration (i.e. cutting/self-mutilation, suicides attempts, smearing/throwing of fecal matter & bodily waste, etc.)

Mary Beth Anderson, an unlicensed psychologist assigned to the RHU to provide and assist prisoners with psycho-therapy, fails to comply with the PDOC policy DC-Adm. 6.5.1 that states: "Psychologist is to visit the RHU 5 days a week and evaluate each inmate in the RHU every 30 days," Ms. Anderson clearly acts hostile to, and in an unethical manner towards prisoners under her care who have sought assistance. Two such prisoners under Mary Beth Anderson's personal responsibility committed suicide, Stoney Schaefer on October 25, 2012, and Harry Cooper on December 9, 2012. Prisoners continue to deteriorate detrimentally in the RHU due to the lack of treatment, with no apparent signs of improvement.

Dr. Steven Reilly, (LMP), is the supervisor of all the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologists" at SCI Albion, who allegedly has been known to manipulate a prisoner's diagnoses, and also dictates to the institution's psychiatrist Dr. Gottsman how to prescribe to the prisoner(s), even when it doesn't conform correctly to a mental disorder; a review of a prisoner's dispensed "psychotropic" medication(s) and their joint-diagnoses will bear this out as occurring.

He also allows the (so-called) "unlicensed psychologist" staff to neglect prisoners who seek help. Two cases in point were of James Whitman who committed suicide September 22, 2013, and a prisoner named Myers who set fire to his cell on the Special Needs Unit (housing unit for mentally ill) October 9, 2013, in an apparent attempted suicide as a result of being denied the treatment that's offered by the department.

Officials at SCI Albion house prisoners who attempt suicide in a Psychological Observation Cell (POC) these cells are designed as torture chambers where prisoners arey confined 24 hours a day with no counseling or therapy, the lights stay on round the clock, and they are forced to wear only a smock (cloth dress mode). These torture chambers only intensify their psychoses that only make them worse upon their return to general population, causing them to receive misconducts and then warehousing them in RHU (Solitary Confinement).

According to the Department of Correction's policy "All Correctional Officers shall receive an annual psychological evaluation," yet SCI Albion officers completely ignore this policy, guards at SCI Albion have not had their psychological evaluations done in years, for some decades, the resulting neglect ramps up the intensity leading to abuse and guards assaulted. The psychological evaluation is also necessary for guards who are active in the military that go to war and return to work with prisoners seething with a combat mentality. Data collected by the International Academy of Suicide Research indicate that prison guard's suicide rates are 39% higher than similar averages for other jobs. If proper psychological evaluations are carried out, it may prevent suicides of guards.

Inadequate Medical Treatment

Prisoners at SCI Albion are being denied proper health care. Prisoners held in the RHU (Solitary Confinement) that send in a request for medical treatment (sick call) get a physician's assistant at their door who attempts to diagnose them based on a brief conversation. Because of this, most prisoners are misdiagnosed, thus violating federal law (Privacy Act), by openly allowing prisoners' medical information disclosed within earshot to everyone on the "pod" (including prisoners).

Many prisoners who request medical treatment in general population and go to see the doctor or physician assistant, are often told to come back or are briefly seen and misdiagnosed. Derrick Jones, a former SCI Albion prisoner won a $312,000 lawsuit for medical negligence at the prison due to a misdiagnosis of a broken ankle as a sprain and inadequate treatment.

Many prisoners with serious medical conditions remain in general population in unsanitary conditions (housing) where they spread their diseases to other prisoners. Prisoners who are on the verge of their demise get housed in the infirmary where they are met with hostile nurses who don't have much regard for life. Dennis Austin died at the infirmary with bed-sores that were grossly infected, confirming a clear disregard for life even at the infirmary. Prisoners continue to die/suffer to death due to lack of adequate care.

No Access to Courts

Valarie C. Kusiak (CCPM) and acting Deputy Melinda Adams are both in charge of the law library at SCI Albion where prisoners' access to the courts and law library are denied. The law library sessions mostly are canceled with no make-up dates; also prisoners are allowed only one 30 minute slot per week access which hinders their research abilities to type up documents and make copies. Also, Ms. Kusiak and Ms. Adams took all the law books out of the law library denying prisoners vital information needed for research. In times of court deadlines, prisoners are not granted extra time to prepare documents and are denied the means to make copies, often leading to losing appeals.

Inadequate Food

Prisoners at SCI Albion are given unhealthy food. The food served to prisoners is uncooked, and the meat is old and freezer burnt. Vegetables and fruit are rotten; milk is 3 days past its sell-by date that most prisoners throw away. Prisoners are getting sick due to these unhealthy food diets.

Inhumane Working Conditions

Prisoners at SCI Albion who are assigned jobs work without proper safety gear to protect them against many dangers. Prisoners working as plumbers do not wear any suits to protect their skin from exposure to the dirty pipes and water that carries Hepatitis C, HIV-Aids, and other viruses from others' body waste that they can be infected by due to a lack of appropriate safety gear. Painters that have to stand on ladders to paint do not have hard hats or eyewear that can protect them from a fall, or paint going in the eyes causing damage to sight. Warehouse workers do not have any hard hats, gloves, eyewear, or safety belt that puts them in great danger. Work related injuries happen quite frequently as a direct result of non-safe standards; also there are other various jobs without any safety measures.

Inadequate Programming & Education

Programs being offered to prisoners at SCI Albion have proven to be ineffective to a prisoners' rehabilitation. Prisoners are lectured in groups (i.e. Violence Prevention, A.O.D., Thinking for a Change, etc.) by coordinators who read from books and do not engage prisoners in critical thinking necessary for rehabilitation, also they allow prisoners to just sit around and talk amongst themselves, when they don't feel like reading and dismiss the group early; this happens a lot. Valarie C. Kusiak and Melinda Adams, who are in charge of programming, do not investigate the efficiency of the groups or prisoners' complaints that the groups are not beneficial.

There are no vocational programs/courses offered for prisoners that coincide with or compliment outside job market trends for ex-felon hiring's at sectors with available openings, leaving an unprepared prisoner upon release to continue a former life of crime that's due to the lack of proper occupational/preparatory instruction. SCI Albion has a 3-in-4 prisoner recidivism rate within a years' time.

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[Medical Care] [Campaigns] [Texas] [ULK Issue 37]
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Fighting the System: Appealing the $100 Medical Co-Pay in Texa$

The Texa$ Legislature cut $60 million from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) budget for 2012 and raised the medical co-pay from $3 per visit to $100 per year. They had the unrealistic expectation of collecting up to $15 million from the prisoners [see Prison Legal News, Oct 2012 p. 42]. As all of us have noticed, the TDCJ also enacted other corner cutting measures to save pennies. These include: cutting back on legal books at the law library, reducing education and rehabilitation programs, serving two meals on the weekend and dessert once a week, restricting indigent correspondence to 5 letters a month, banning freeworld stationary (so you must buy it from the commissary), and reducing the number of staff. The idea was to reduce expenses that would help Texa$ manage its massive budget shortfall.

This guide is about appealing the $100 medical co-pay in Texa$. It presents all the Co-Pay Exemptions that can be used to get your money back. We want to keep our very limited funds out of the hands of the TDCJ so that we can use it for more important purposes. Specifically, you are encouraged to spend any money you recover on educating and organizing others. Send a donation to Under Lock & Key to expand the pages in this valuable resource, create study groups and make copies of literature to study, copy and distribute grievance petitions to fight the corrupt grievance process and to end the limit on indigent correspondence, or buy stamps and envelopes for indigent prisoners who can't buy for themselves. There are a lot of things we need to be doing with our limited funds, so we fight to keep this money from being appropriated by the state.

How Do We Appeal The Medical Co-pay?

It is rather simple. Get a Step One Grievance (I-127) and explain on it why you are exempt. If your Step One is denied, follow through with the same argument in a Step Two (I-128). You will be surprised at how often the Appeal is granted. The issue is that most medical departments systematically charge everyone the co-pay out of hope you are ignorant about the exemptions and fail to appeal it. They get away with this because there is no confirmation necessary for them to charge you (compared to commissary purchases, receiving legal mail, sending indigent correspondence - all need your confirmation - but not the medical co-pay). Here is a brief example: Co-pay is not to be assessed for any prisoner receiving a clipper shave pass as they have been diagnosed with a chronic and permanent dermatologic condition - "pseudofolliculitis barbae." Diabetic prisoners who receive foot care, specifically toe nail trimming, as part of their chronic care treatment plan are not to be assessed a co-pay fee either.

The medical co-pay regulation can be found at Texas Government Code 501-063. The Administrative Director for it in TDCJ is AD 06-08. In relevant part, the Co-payment Determinations and Exemptions are found in Section III.

Here are the Exemptions:

A) Unless specifically exempted, offender-initiated visits shall be subject to a copayment (meaning that if you do not initiate the visit, i.e. work related or officer initiates it, then you are exempt).

B) A copayment shall NOT be charged if the health care service is the result of an emergency which includes, but is not limited to, injuries sustained as a result of an accident or assault. Such injuries shall be covered by the emergency visit exemption.

C) Copay shall NOT be charged if the health care services are related to the diagnosis or treatment of a communicable disease. Such services, including follow-up visits and testing, are exempt as either a chronic care visit or a department-initiated visit. Offenders shall not be charged for initiating communicable disease testing.

D) Initial requests for mental health reviews initiated by the offender are NOT subject to the copayment requirement. Emergency, follow-up, or chronic care requests for mental health reviews shall NOT be charged a copayment.

E) Follow-up visit related to the monitoring or treatment of a condition diagnosed in a previous visit with a health care provider are exempt from copayment charges.

F) Prenatal services, including the initial visit diagnosing pregnancy, subsequent examinations, testing, counseling and patient education services are specifically exempted from copayment requirements.

G) Physical or mental health screening, laboratory work, referrals and follow-up appointments provided or recommended as part of the initial intake diagnostic and reception process are exempt from the copayment requirement.

H) A health screening upon arrival at a new unit of assignment shall be considered a visit to a health care provider initiated by a health care provider and is exempt from the copayment requirement.

I) Prescriptions and medications are considered to be a result of a medical visit and follow-up procedures and are exempt from the copayment charge. No charge shall be assessed for accessing approved over-the-counter medications made available in the offender housing area.

J) A copayment applies to a single visit. An offender requesting a visit to a health care provider for multiple symptoms shall be charged only one copayment if the symptoms are addressed in the same visit. If a request for a visit with a health care provider results in scheduling of appointments with more than one provider, such as a dentist and a physician, the initial visit with each clinician is subject to the copayment requirement.

K) If an offender is being seen by a provider for services otherwise exempted from the copayment and during the course of the visit requests healthcare services related to a different condition then that being served, the additional request shall be treated as an initial offender-initiated visit, shall be documented in accordance with the walk in procedures, and are subject to the copayment requirement.

L) A copayment shall NOT be assessed for medical treatment of self-inflicted injuries. Offenders inflicting injuries on themselves shall be referred to mental health evaluations.

M) Offenders shall NOT be charged for "No-Shows" because a visit did not occur. The copayment requirement only applies if the offender is seen by a health care provider. "No-Shows" shall be documented in accordance with CMHC procedures.

N) Dental services are considered health care services and subject to the copayment requirements if the services are initiated by the offender. Exemptions from copayment requirements for emergencies, chronic care, follow-up, health screening and evaluations, and department initiated visits are to be applied in the same manner as for other health care services.

O) Physical evaluations following use of force incidents are required by TDCJ policy and are not subject to the copayment requirement.

P) Inpatient services are considered follow-up services and are not subject to the copayment requirement. These services include, but are not limited to, hospitalization, extended care nursing, hospice and unit infirmary inpatient care.

Q) Procedures or testing ordered by a Court or performed pursuant to state law are exempt from the copayment requirement.

R) Services provided under contractual obligation established pursuant to the Interstate Corrections Compact or under an agreement with another state that precludes the assessment of a copayment shall be exempt from the requirement to charge.

Each One, Teach One

Share this guide with those who need it. If you are a good grievance writer, then help those who may not feel as confident. And be sure to encourage everyone to make good use of the money they win through these grievances. It is not enough to just keep $100 out of the hands of the TDCJ. If that money is spent on unnecessary canteen purchases or on drugs or services that are bad for your health and/or a waste of money, you haven't actually accomplished anything. Spend this money on meaningful work to fight the criminal injustice system. Even a small donation can help with the education of others and the expansion of our work, and $100 can do a lot! Get in touch with MIM(Prisons) to make a donation or for more information about educating and organizing in Texas prisons and beyond.

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[Medical Care] [Evans Correctional Institution] [South Carolina]
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Health Hazards in South Carolina

It's cold outside, yesterday we had ice on the ground, and lots of rain, and for a month now I have been without shoes. We are given clogs, which you know are not made for inclement weather. They have holes in the bottoms. I wear compression hose due to edema in my legs. The cement sidewalk eats a hole in them and medical won't replace them for a month, the clogs I'm told have to be worn one year before they can be exchanged. The service life is one year, which does not take into account the weight of a person or his walking habits.

The medical department at Evans Correctional Institution is dysfunctional. South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) hired a racist physician's assistant as a necessary component to reduce prison medical expenditures. Finally after letters to the medical board, Senators, filing grievances, talking to other prisoners who experienced problems with this same physician's assistant, prompting them to engage this fight against intolerance, he finally moved on. SCDC only hires those with less than perfect records, the last doctor was barred from practice in 3 states (Dr. Paul Drago #9700531). Now the nurses are taking up where they left off, we've had three deaths that I know of and it's not getting any better.

The food is mostly a mystery meat that is supposed to be turkey, which used to come in a box that read "not for human consumption." Now we have the same meat, in a different box. More often than not the food is cold (not serving temperature), prisoners are given the wrong size portions, some more, others less. Food supervisors just come for the pay check, and we get 6 minutes to eat. Some prisoners say they are going to bed hungry. The others that can afford it go to the canteen where most of the food is high in price and salt.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We looked up Dr. Drago and found that he was a plastic surgeon before working at the prison, not exactly the specialty needed there. But after having his license revoked in multiple states, this was likely the only job he could get. This is how little we value the health of prisoners: subjecting them to the "care" of doctors who are deemed unfit to practice medicine outside of prison.

Health and health care are generally available in direct proportion to people's wealth and status under imperialism. Those at the bottom are lucky to have access to any medical care, and live in conditions that lead to greatly reduced life expectancy. The life expectancy in many African countries is less than 60, and those doing well are in their 60s, while imperialist countries of the world enjoy a life expectancy in the 80s. This discrepancy is killing people, lives that could be saved with a more equitable distribution of resources and education. Prisoners in the United $tates share the interests of the oppressed in the Third World in the fight for access to health care and safe and sanitary living conditions.

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[Medical Care] [Arizona State Prison Complex Lewis Morey] [Arizona]
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Health Hazard in Arizona

We can't get anything done around here like getting a toilet or sink fixed. There are 800 cells on this yard and in 5% of them these basic amenities don't work. We literally have to fill mop buckets of water to flush down waste. Three of these pods leak water from the ceiling on to the day room 24 hours a day. It's always flooded and this combination is physically and biologically hazardous.


MIM(Prisons) adds: As we explained in ULK 34, prisoner health is a systematic problem. We have documented cases of lack of adequate nutrition or even safe uncontaminated food, brutality that leads to permanent physical health problems, contaminated water, medical neglect and other sources of health problems throughout the prison system. This problem with toilets and other leaking water is yet another example of prisons creating conditions that lead to significant health problems for the captives. Sanitation is a basic problem that we typically see in Third World countries, but this is just one of many examples of poor sanitation in Amerikan prisons. While individual cases like this could be addressed by the prison, we know that inadequate medical care and lack of basic sanitation are conditions the oppressed face around the world, and not something that imperialism has an interest in fixing.

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[Medical Care] [Ohio State Penitentiary] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 36]
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Ohio Prisoners Take Up Legal Fight Over Medical Neglect

Though it is very difficult to rally my fellow prisoners here at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) to support any cause, I am happy to say that a small group of revolutionary minded brothers here have come together to fight against OSP's medical department with the assistance of the Ohio branch of the ACLU. I know that comrades in other states, such as California, Nevada and Texas have it much worse than us here in Ohio. But having been the victim of this state's deliberate indifference, I know how it feels to be denied the medical care that is my right as a human being and I am outraged not only for myself but also for all of my incarcerated, abused and oppressed brothers. A victory in this fight is a step on the road to revolution for us all and I hold out the highest of hopes for these comrades and their struggle.

I truly wish there was more good news for me to report from my cage in OSP but sadly, here as in most prisons, good news is hard to come by. Please add my name to the Under Lock & Key mailing list and let me know of any way I can help to support your organization. Also, at this point, I am starved for literature so if you have or are aware of any programs that can help me to get books and literature please let me know.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate people sending us reports like this about battles, both small and large, taking place across the country. We see the value of connecting struggles across states and learning from the successes and failures of people in other prisons. Under Lock & Key reports on these types of battles, but we go even further and offer political analysis and education around these struggles. We are not satisfied with simply fighting for small improvements in medical care or mail policies. Such improvements alleviate the suffering and improve the ability of our comrades behind bars to engage in political organizing, but they should also be part of our broader work to educate and build a strong and committed political center that understands the need to take on the imperialist system as a whole in order to dismantle the criminal injustice system.

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[Medical Care] [Abuse] [International Connections] [Campaigns] [ULK Issue 34]
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ULK34: Prisoner Health a Systematic Problem

Humyn health is perhaps the most basic measure of oppression that we have. More than economic exploitation, humyn health measures the degree to which the basic survival needs of people are being met. Looking at the conditions of health in U.$. prisons, as well as reservations, barrios and ghettos across the United $tates, does not paint a favorable picture of imperialism and its ability to provide for humyn needs, not to mention even worse conditions across the Third World. Given this, health becomes an issue that we can rally the oppressed around to both serve the people and oppose imperialism.

We've been pushing this very issue in United Struggle from Within (USW) circles in California for some months, in some cases leading to state repression. With the recently suspended mass hunger strike in that state, a rash of deaths in Texas and the usual array of abuses across U.$. prisons, we thought this was an opportune time to focus an issue of ULK on health struggles.

Health was a central theme in the California hunger strike where prisoners began to pass out from lack of food and other complications. Bill "Guero" Sell died after a approximately two weeks on hunger strike. The state says it was suicide, but however he died, the SHU was the cause of death. One San Quentin prisoner's kidneys shut down, and many complained of the lack of medical monitoring and the aloofness of medical staff. We have been sending regular updates to comrades in California about what has been going on over the last two months. For those who want to see more reporting in ULK, send in your donations to help reach the goal of $250 to add 4 pages to a future issue.

In at least two Texas prisons we have comrades organizing around the murders of prisoners by staff abuse and neglect, the most basic health campaign. In Texas we also have positive examples of organizing sports as a way to bring people together and improve health. Meanwhile comrades in more restrictive conditions in one California prison were punished for organizing group exercise, calling it "Security Threat Group activity."

The manipulation of people through chemical substances is another common health theme. Many comrades are being denied medications they depend on and facing life-threatening conditions. At the same time oppressed communities fight the use of recreational drugs to oppress their people as seen in the struggle of the Oglala Lakotah. The exposure of this form of low-intensity chemical warfare right here in North America is particularly relevant at a time when the blood-thirsty imperialists have been ramping up for an invasion of Syria based on unsubstantiated claims of chemical weapons use by the government there.

From rotten potatoes in Massachussetts, to inadequate servings in Nevada and people forced to rely on vending machines in Florida, basic nutrition is denied to people in a country where 40% of food is wasted. Recently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that greenhouse gases from global food waste is more than the emissions of any single country except China or the United $tates.(1) Water, another vital resource, is also used to produce all this wasted food. From U.$. prisoners, to the global countryside where malnutrition leads to thousands of deaths daily, to the environmental services that all of humynity depend on, the capitalist profit system has failed to serve humyn need.

We can look to the barefoot doctors in revolutionary China, or the mobile health units of the Black Panther Party or the Young Lords Party as examples of serving the people's basic health needs in a revolutionary context. The Chinese also took a completely different approach to mental illness, which bourgeois society does more to cause than to remedy. Materially, the capitalist economic system can produce enough for everyone, but cannot provide it to them. It's a system that uses the denial of basic health as a form of social control, because if it did not the system would be overthrown. Rather than begging the oppressor for a little relief, let's implement real solutions to these problems.

This article referenced in:
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[Medical Care] [Neal Unit] [Texas] [ULK Issue 34]
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Medication Denials in Texas

It seems as if all chaos has been released on this unit, as now the security officers and administration officers are denying prisoners here their prescribed medication. Medical wants to close evening pill dispensing at 5.30pm whether all prisoners get their medication or not, to avoid overtime. The unit is relatively small and if run by security staff properly, it could run pill window for all prisoners by 5:30pm. But the prison creates conditions that make this impossible, delaying count, shutting down prisoner movement, etc.

Because of a lack of proper medication several prisoners have had violent epileptic seizures. Other prisoners have gone days at a time without their medication. A building missed their medication three days straight.

It is obvious that the wheels have fallen off when the medical department blames security for such denials of a person's medication, and security blames medical by stating they "have no control over medical decisions."

Four days out of ten last month I myself missed medication, and I was placed in protected custody twice for speaking out against such blatant violation of our rights. Because of this, trouble is brewing that presents an environment that is hostile and unsafe for both officers and prisoners, a violation of our right to a safe and secure place to do our time.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Medical neglect is all too common in Amerikan prisons. This should be no surprise as capitalism puts profits before health, and in the case of prisons it puts social control before health. This is a clear example of the criminal injustice system punishing prisoners just for the sake of punishment. There is no possible rehabilitative purpose to denying prisoners their medicine. It is a way to put lives in danger. They might claim to save a few dollars on staff overtime in the short run, but the long-term financial cost of treating seriously ill prisoners will far exceed these savings as many prisoners are on medication critical to control serious conditions.

The abysmal health care in Amerikan prisons mirrors the situation on the streets in this country that spends more money per persyn on health care than any other in the world, but yet has far poorer health than most First World countries and even some Third World countries. Ironically this poor health hits the wealthy in Amerika too. These are some ways in which communism will serve all the world's people, not just the poor. Although the wealthy will be brought down to the same economic level as everyone else in the world, improvements in healthcare, an end to environmental destruction, and opportunities to lead productive lives are all important enhancements in life that all will enjoy when capitalism is overthrown.

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