Sunday, June 10, 2007

Speaking of Paris Hilton,

although there is little doubt that Ms. Hilton will continue to be coddled - even while in the joint - most women in US jails and prisons are treated quite poorly. Check this out courtesy of Amnesty International:
The Issue: Medical Neglect of Women in US Prisons

Women are denied essential medical resources and treatments, especially during times of pregnancy and/or chronic and degenerative diseases.

  • Failure to refer seriously ill inmates for treatment and delays in treatment
    Women inmates suffering from treatable diseases such as asthma, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, cancer, late-term miscarriages, and seizures have little or no access to medical attention, sometimes resulting in death or permanent injury. Instances of failure to deliver life-saving drugs for inmates with HIV/AIDS has also been noted.
  • Lack of qualified personnel and resources and use of non-medical staff
    There is too few staff to meet physical and mental health needs. This often results in long delays in obtaining medical attention; disrupted and poor quality treatment causing physical deterioration of prisoners with chronic and degenerative diseases, like cancer; overmedication of prisoners with psychotropic drugs; and lack of mental health treatment. The use of non-medical staff to screen requests for treatment is also common.
  • Charges for medical attention
    In violation of international standards, many prisons/jails charge inmates for medical attention, on the grounds that charging for health care services deters prisoners from seeking medical attention for minor matters or because they want to avoid work. In some supermaximum prisons, where prisoners cannot work at all, the US Justice Department has expressed concern that charging prisoners impedes their access to health care.
  • Inadequate Reproductive Health Care
    In 1994, the National Institute of Corrections stated that provision of gynecological services for women in prison is inadequate. Only half of the state prison systems surveyed offer female-specific services such as mammograms and Pap smears, and often entail a long wait to be seen.
  • Shackling During Pregnancy
    Shackling of all prisoners, including pregnant prisoners, is policy in federal prisons and the US Marshall Service and exists in almost all state prisons. Only two states have legislation regulating the use of restraints (belly chain, leg irons and handcuffs) Shackling during labor may cause complications during delivery such as hemorrhage or decreased fetal heart rate. If a caesarian section is needed, a delay of even 5 minutes may result in permanent brain damage to the baby.
  • Lack of treatment for substance abuse
    The gap between services available and treatment needs continues to grow. The number of prisoners with histories of drug abuse is growing, but the proportion of prisoners receiving treatment declined from 40% in 1991 to 18% in 1997.
  • Lack of Adequate or Appropriate Mental Health Services
    48-88% of women inmates experienced sexual or physical abuse before coming to prison (as many as 90% in New York and Ohio prisons), and suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Very few prison systems provide counseling. Women attempting to access mental health services are routinely given medication without opportunity to undergo psychotherapeutic treatment.
Props to Professor Black Woman. In sociological terms this systematic denial of health services to women in prisons would be considered structural violence.

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