9.05.2007

Murphy in the Morning/ Prison Health Care

Drive time radio has extensive reach. My market according to Arbitron is the 45th largest. WKZL has a 5.6 AQH share for the most recent quarter. That translates to a particularly loud voice for Jack Murphy of Murphy in the Morning. This morning Jack was talking about the Department of Corrections new facility for inmate health care and well I think you should read the email he sent him. I've emailed him once before correcting him on a missatribution of the term straight edge (he associated it with Mormonism after having seen an episode of Big Love). He was kind enough to read it on the air. Hopefully he'll do the same with this one.

Dear Murphy,

First off, thanks again for reading my previous correspondence on the air.

On your show today you lamented that prisoners get health care while poor people don't and asked "Where is the justice?" The inference if not the implication of this statement is that being allowed to deteriorate physically and mentally is an acceptable punishment for crime.

Prisons have a responsibility to care for those in their custody.

Custody \Cus"to*dy\ (k?s"t?-d?), n. [L. custodia, fr. custos guard; prob. akin to Gr. ?????? to hide, and E. hide. See to cover.]
1. A keeping or guarding; care, watch, inspection, for keeping, preservation, or security.A fleet of thirty ships for the custody of the narrow seas. --Bacon. 2. Judicial or penal safe-keeping.Jailer, take him to thy custody. --Shak. Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)


Your statement also pits two relatively powerless groups against one another. Taking care of our prisoners health care and the health care of the less fortunate in this society are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both. Your statement perpetuates the idea of health care as a privilege rather than a right. Health care is not a perk. You also seem unaware of the fact that the prison population to a significant degree is filled with nonviolent offenders. Human Rights Watch notes that:

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) data, 53 percent of all state and federal prisoners are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. Indeed, an estimated 337,872 men and women are serving state or federal prison sentences because of drug convictions, most of whom are low-level offenders.


Overly punitive prison sentencing practices mandated by legislators (as opposed to judges) desiring to appear tough on crime contributes to an aging prison population which mirrors the outside world in its need for medical care. According to the AP:

A 1994 state law meant to do away with parole has increased the number of inmates who are expected to die behind bars.There are nearly 3,500 state prisoners over age 50. That's about three times what it was ten years ago.


Thank you for at least talking about the issue. I hope that this provides some context for a more informed discussion.

Sources:

here

here

here

and here

Best Regards,
Juan Vasquez



Let me know what you think. Are you keeping Morning Radio honest?

1 comment:

Mark said...

Who ever said that health care is a Right? In a private health care system all are responsible for their own health. If they are blocked from being able to provide their own care (in prison, for example) then yes, take care of them. The poor are just as responsible as the rich for their own health.
Of course Jesus also said, "Feed the hungry and take care of the sick..."