A Prisoner's Tale

Bad medicine

A large prison complex, like the one in which I was incarcerated until recently in Arizona, has several units, each with its own set of facilities and interior fences. As some inmates are moved from maximum- to medium- and eventually to minimum-security units, they are seen by different doctors for a variety of minor ailments. Those like myself who develop more serious problems are seen by specialists outside the prison after being referred to them by the prison unit doctors. In this way prison health care works like HMOs and other health-care systems that require patients to be seen by a primary caregiver before the system will pay for a visit to the specialist. The cost of the extended care must be approved by the nonmedical staff.
For the most part I have found that the doctors and nurses in the prison units are just as capable and compassionate as those on the outside. But there the comparison ends. My recent experiences with the health care provided by the prison system may well serve as an example of what can be expected from a health-care bureaucracy that treats everyone as just another computer entry.

I spent two-and-a-half years in a maximum-security unit and another year and a half in a medium-security unit before earning my way to a minimum-security unit. When I arrived I had no indication of the cancer developing in my prostate. Prostate cancer rarely shows early symptoms. If I had known, I...

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About the Author

Raymond E. Williams says this about himself: "My first computer had vacuum tubes. I was once a respected member of the computer world, looked up to by my customers and associates. Today I am serving seven-and-a-half to fifteen years for attempted child molesting. I do not excuse my actions. What I did was wrong. I hope that my writing will present a view of my life in prison on several levels."