There is no denying that prison is bad and rarely anything good happens while you’re in there. When people go to prison, it’s to pay their debt to society and reform, not be coddled or treated like royalty. However, one of the basic rights in prison is that you will receive free, fully comprehensive health care. Unfortunately, the health care that most prisoners receive is falls far from the adequate care people require and with the current situation in many US jails (overcrowded prisoners, understaffed guards and medical professionals, and violence directed at all), it’s even more difficult for both prisoners to receive health care and doctors/nurses to administer it.
Now, Florida is facing an even larger crisis in regards to prisoner health care. The private company responsible for the largest amount of prisoner health care has decided against renewing its contract, worth $1.1 billion, with the state. This means that the state has only 6 months to find comprehensive health care for the around 74,000 prisoners currently incarcerated within the state and relying on the prisons for their health needs. Not only is this a huge task without any sort of deadline, the fact that in 6 months there will be no health care in any of Florida’s 111 prisons is adding extra pressure to a situation that is already full of it.
So why did this vital contract pull out? The Department of Corrections Secretary, Julie Jones, ordered the contract to be renegotiated in February due to frequent inmate maltreatment, chronic understaffing and rising numbers of unnatural inmate deaths. Not only were more prisoners dying than ever before, but the deaths were frequently unexplained and unstudied — 346 inmates died in Florida prisons last year and 176 had no immediate cause of death. Since Florida Governor Rick Scott has been trying to privatize the prison health care industry, this cancellation of the contract is a big blow to his efforts and may end the issue once and for all. As for now, the prisoners are covered for 6 more months and if nothing is found after that, they should try to not get hurt.
If you’d like to read more, the link is here.