It is common for people, especially those opting for prison-related jobs, to perceive the prison as one of the most high-risk places. Such assumptions overlook the fact that compared to the number of prison wardens who die in a year, the number of prisoners who die in prisons is far much higher. It is disheartening to note that a significant percentage of these deaths are far from natural but are rather directly linked to medical neglect, sexual assaults, gang violence, and lack of rehabilitation in prisons among other causes, all of which being preventable causes. These deaths have always taken a plethora of prisons in the United States to courts on charges of negligence culminating to deaths of prisoners. Even with amendments of various constitutions in the world over in a bid to safeguard inmates’ rights, and negligence-related deaths in prisons, the situation keeps on souring.
Identification of problem
Medical neglect is a multifaceted phenomenon in United States correctional facilities that take several forms. Following a declaration by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) that our facility did not meet correctional healthcare standards, it was inevitable to initiate a project dubbed “Fix It” with a view of unraveling the root of this life-threatening problem identified as medical neglect. It was, therefore, logical that a fact sheet be compiled with in mind that medical neglect takes a superfluity of forms. On top of the list on the fact sheet was the failure of the prison wardens to refer inmates for treatment in a prompt manner. Again, the facility lacked qualified medical personnel to provide such much-needed medical attentions. Moreover, considering that drug and substance abuse is widespread in the facility, the facility lacks treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse as well as appropriate mental health care services.
Common Diseases in United States correctional facilities
Correctional facilities in the United States are famous for being the home of some of the world’s most dreaded ailments. As Finkel (2011) notes, it is the responsibility of United States’ Bureau of Justice to carry out surveys to ascertain the incidence and prevalence of diseases that mostly affect inmates. Of the various diseases identified by the Bureau of Justice, the most common type of diseases in United States’ correctional facilities are communicable diseases such as HIV, TB, and hepatitis (Finkel, 2011). Other health conditions identified by the bureau are drug and alcohol dependency.
The high prevalence of communicable diseases in these facilities, inclusive of our facility can be attributed to poor ventilation, rampant sexual assault, and overcrowding (Finkel, 2011). To Cyan-Brock (2011), this high prevalence is a result of common prison practices such as tattooing, kissing, sharing of piercing objects and confinement. Notwithstanding, both Finkel (2011), and Cyan-Brock (2011) agree that medical neglect in these facilities is profoundly to blamed for this high prevalence; this clearly provides an insight into amelioration of the health conditions in these facilities depends on the provision of proper medical care to inmates. A survey carried out in our facility could easily be pinpoint that practices such as tattooing, sexual assault, sharing of piercing and likewise drug and alcohol abuse existed in the facility.
Need for Change
The resurgence of communicable diseases thought to have ceased to exist can be traced to correctional facilities hence the need to provide inmates with proper medical services as one way of curbing resurgence. This is marked with umpteen policy formulations together with constitutional amendments. As Travis (2005) reports, the medical conditions in United States correctional facilities have goaded several criminal justice reforms and movements dating back to the 1970s. In a view to safeguard the medical rights of inmates and other people in the various correctional facilities, several policies have been with the United Nations taking a center stage in fighting against medical negligence in United States correctional facilities.
In December 1966, the United Nations adopted the International Covenant on Economics, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) intended for the protection of the economic, social, and cultural rights of human beings. Article 12 of the ICESCR affirms that every human has a right to medical care of the highest attainable standard. On the same note, with reference to the United Nations' General Assembly Resolution 44/111, which outlines the principals for the basic treatment of prisoners; all prisoners are entitled to health services available is a country without any legal, related discrimination. Other policies that have openly-advocated for the provision of health services to inmates include the Eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution among others.
The policies mentioned above clearly support the assertion that inmates, just like other citizens of a country have a right to the provision of basic health care services. However, contrary to the stipulates of the laws above, human beings in most correctional facilities do not have access to basic healthcare services. Several cases if inmates’ illnesses go unreported, the inmates themselves do not seek medical attention for a specific illness because of varied reasons, whereas some facilities lack qualified personnel to offer such apposite medical services to the inmates.
With the various forms of medical neglect identified, project Fix It will base its amelioration strategies on these highlighted forms. The project will strive to sensibilize the prison wardens and other top authorities on the importance of reporting inmates’ medical conditions in a timely manner. This will ensure a timely containment of disease outbreaks. This strategy underscores that fact that prison wardens innately become indifferent to the plights of the prisoners. This character exhibited by once normal prison wardens, as Haney and Zimbardo (1998) attest, is an intrinsically initiated pathological change that originates from the psychological nature of the correctional facility’s environment (as cited in Specter, 2006). In a bid to perfect this strategy, having in mind that the prison environment intrinsically motivate some of the cruel treatments that inmates receive, project Fix It will adopt some of the strategies identified by Specter (2006) in his research on how to reduce prison violence. Such strategies include; formulation of policies that protect inmates from mistreatment, imposing discipline on defying wardens, and supervision of use of force by wardens (Specter, 2006).
Again, project Fix It will endeavor to create mental health care facilities for helping alcohol and drug addicts. In tandem with this, project Fix It will seek the government’s favor in terms increasing its expenditure on the provisions of medical services to this correctional facility. This will ensure the hiring of qualified medical practitioners to provide these much-needed services. In concurrence to the assertion by the United Nation in a Handbook for Prisoners needs, the Fix It project will also emphasize the need to have qualified medical personnel serving in the facility attending in-service training on how to handle the correctional facility’s medical cases effectively.
Project Leadership Style
It is worth noting that the success of the strategies discussed above require that the project be under the authorship of a leader with exemplary leadership skills and ideology. Being the proponent of the project Fix It, I will hold the helm position in the implementation of these strategies. Because the implementation of these strategies will occur under different situations, I am convinced that Fiedler’s contingency style of leadership will be the most appropriate. This argument lies in the premise that according Fiedler’s asseveration, there is no single most effective way to lead; leadership positions are contingent of the prevailing situation (Hodgetts & Hegar, 2008).
Timeline, Implementation Strategies, and Evaluation Process
Because of the unpredictability of the conditions in the correctional facility, project Fix It cannot be pinned to any rigid timeline. However, commencement of the implementation of the strategies highlighted is slated for early January 2012 and will last for more than six months. Checking of success will be done two months after completion of the implementation process through an invitation of the NCCHC, who will provide a report of the compliance of the facility with relevant policies governing the provision of medical services in correctional facilities. Depending on the report by NCCHC, necessary corrective measures in a bid to achieve the project Fix It objectives fully.
Concisely, medical neglect is one of the leading causes of deaths in most correctional facilities. The neglect is to blame for the widespread of various communicable diseases among inmates. However, with the identification of the various forms through which medical neglect take place in correctional, achievement of better medical healthcare in correctional facilities is possible. This is achievable through campaigning of increase government expenditure on medical services provision in correctional facilities and sensitizing wardens on the pertinence of prompt reporting of medical cases, among other strategies.
Cyan-Brock T. K. (2011). Prisoners of Love. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation.
Finkel, M. L. (2011). Public Health in the 21st Century, Volume 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC.
Hodgetts, R. M. & Hegar, K. W. (2008). Modern Human Relations at Work. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western.
Specter, D. (2006). “Making Prisons Safe: Strategies for Reducing Violence.” Journal of Law & Policy, 22 (125): 125-134.
Travis, J. (2005). But They All Come Back: Facing The Challenges Of Prisoner Reentry. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.
United Nations (2009). Handbook on Prisoners with Special Needs. United Nations Publications.