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Many in U.S. Prisons Lack Good Health Care
Date:1/16/2009

of which were denied -- to review copies of an U.S. Surgeon General's report on prison health care.

In their study, the authors analyzed responses contained in two Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys: the 2002 Survey of Inmates in Local Jails and the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.

"Of these roughly 2 million inmates, about 800,000 suffered from a chronic condition that generally requires medical attention: diabetes, hypertension, a prior heart attack or a previously diagnosed cancer, among a few other diagnoses," Wilper said.

Compared to non-incarcerated citizens, inmates in state jails were 31 percent more likely to have asthma, 55 percent more prone to have diabetes, and 90 percent more likely to have suffered a heart attack.

In federal, state and local jails, 38.5 percent of inmates, 42.8 percent of inmates and 38.7 percent of inmates, respectively, had a chronic medical condition.

Among inmates with mental conditions that had been treated on the outside, 69.1 percent of federal prison inmates, 68.6 percent of those in state facilities, and 45.5 percent of those in local jails were not taking their medication at the time of their arrest. The treatment rate for mental health woes tripled after incarceration.

Fourteen percent of those in federal prisons, 20 percent of state prison inmates and 68.4 percent of those in local jails had not yet seen a health-care provider since their incarceration, despite persistent health problems, the report found.

"There's some alarming data that suggests that those [inmates] with chronic conditions don't get the care they need when incarcerated and that's Eighth-Amendment illegal," Blakely said. "The whole war on drugs has made a disaster of our judicial system and created a nightmare we can't control."

"Given the huge cost of incarceration, we're foolish not to ensure that inmates get
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