Sangye Rinchen and Christopher Zoukis
PETERSBURG, Va., Oct. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Social justice advocate, author, and inmate, Christopher Zoukis, recently met with Sangye Rinchen, a transgender federal prison inmate incarcerated for bank robbery at FCI Petersburg – a medium-security federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia. What he learned was frightening.
Since 2012, Rinchen has tried to get treatment for nerve damage to her foot and leg. And as a transgender female, she is no stranger to facing difficult challenges. A proactive prisoner, she is the leader of a Buddhist group that helps other prisoners from diverse backgrounds to collectively meditate and worship.
“This helps to calm others’ rage and anger while keeping my own frustrations in check,” she says. “That said, I am frustrated over the deplorable medical treatment I have received. It’s like we are in a third-world country.”
The issue related to her leg has to do with nerve function, and a condition that seems to be progressive in nature. Her condition has continued to deteriorate to the point of requiring the use of a cane, and a self-made foot/ankle brace.
Rinchen fears that the nerve damage to her leg may now be irreversible.
“I can barely walk, and standing up is a real task,” she says. “I don’t sleep much because of painful muscle spasms. It’s frustrating because until I got hurt, I was an avid runner and taught yoga at the prison. I can’t do any of that now. Just walking to the chow hall is a chore. It’s a nightmare for someone who was once so athletic. Frankly, I’m terrified I won’t be able to walk anymore. I cannot imagine prison in a wheelchair.”
Zoukis is working to help get the word out. He wrote an article about the interview conducted with Rinchen and hopes that it will garner enough attention so Rinchen can get the healthcare she is in dire need of.
The full article can be read here: http://www.prisonlawblog.com/blog/one-incarcerated-transgender-buddhists-experience-with-medical-care-in-federal-prison