Monday, 15 February 2010

Dysfunctional health system: Break the law, go to hospital

I have commented before in this blog about the fact that, although I am cautiously against the death penalty, I find the way it is implemented to be balmy and generally offensive.
But there is one thing that is just ridiculous.
Item, overheard from somebody else's TV: mass murderer in Africa, HIV positive, gets full medical care and anti-retro-viral drugs while in prison. His wife and child, not in prison, get nothing and can't afford it.
Can anyone explain to me how exactly this, in any way, makes sense?
My opinions on the death penalty come down to this:
  1. Make it the penalty of last resort.
  2. Throw all your effort into ensuring that the case is water-tight, and set the standard for the death penalty high.
  3. Care for the prisoner as you would any other, until the penalty is carried out.
  4. Do it as soon after the trial, and all permissible appeals, as possible.
To this I would like to add:
Prisoners get the same medical care that is available to all members of society, no more, no less.
If you have universal health cover, such as Australia, then give them that cover. If you have a user-pays system, such as the laughably named United States of America, then put in place a health care economy inside the prison. Provide health cover as you would an employment contract, perhaps: They obey the rules, they participate in all prison tasks, they work if required to work, and they get a representative style of health cover.
If your country doesn't have any employment-related health cover either: Well, then, why is your prison system making itself such an attractive destination for the down-and-out and the sick?
That is, surely, all that you are doing. When somebody has hit rock bottom, guaranteed accommodation, food and medical care starts to look pretty good.
My views on universal, "socialised" medicine (notice which terms get used in countries where "socialism" is a dirty word?) are that it is a primary function of society to provide care for its members, and that must include medical care, which improves quality of life, productivity, and the crime rate.
So my opinion on prisoners getting free medical care in prison is the same as my opinion on your average man, woman, child or indeterminate individual on the street getting free medical care: Yes.
My opinion on a state which denies care to good, decent, well-behaved law-abiding citizens while providing it to the worst of the worst of offenders, is: What the fuck have you been smoking?

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