When disability becomes punishment

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been talking about compassionate release, specifically as it relates to the seriously ill and elderly. While it doesn’t precisely fit into the same discussion, individuals with disabilities face many of the same challenges. Some prisoners’ disabilities may indeed make them candidates for release, but regardless of their status […]

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The decay in prison dental care

Many Americans forget that, in fact, Guam is a territory of the United States. Indeed even the federal government seems to forget that, as was the fact that while the people of Guam serve in the American military they are often excluded from services for veterans, was highlighted.  That’s why it’s unsurprising that developments in their […]

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Where compassion knows boundaries

I wanted to share this thoughtful piece from Newseek with you because hits home on many levels.  As a prison activist, it highlights the serious gaps in health care endemic to the prison system and how lack of oversight and regulation is allowing prison officials to, quite literally, get away with murder. And on a personal level, […]

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An Error in Judgment

By Christopher Zoukis

Some time ago, I came across short filler-article in the business section of the San Francisco Chronicle.  The title of the article indicated that five executives had been found guilty and would soon be sentenced.  Aha!  White collar crime, I thought.  And since I find white collar crime to be simultaneously fascinating and ludicrous, I read the article.  I am fascinated by what drives people to embezzlement, how they commit the crime and how it’s usually arrogance that trips them up.

The article named the five executives who had been convicted.  Then it went on and compared the fall of their company, NCFE, to the fall of Enron.  That’s quite a comparison, since Enron was the epitome of corporate greed, fraudulent business practices and financial collapse.  The shockwaves from the disintegration of Enron are still being felt today.  If it was comparable to Enron, why hadn’t I heard about it?  I was intrigued, so I did some digging.  My excavations turned up the following interesting information.

There’s a small town in Ohio, named Dublin, after the famous city in Ireland.  Commonly depicted as ‘gentrified modern,’ which is a quaint way of describing gold courses, strip malls and multi-plex theaters, Dublin – the one in Ohio, not the other one – is headquarters for Wendy’s International.  Most people have heard of the hamburger chain.  What they haven’t heard of is another big firm in the same city.

National Century Financial Enterprises.  Started in 1991, this outfit soon became the nation’s largest purchaser of hospital, physician and other health care receivables.  The buying up of receivables works like this.  NCFE buys the accounts receivable of small hospitals, medical clinics and nursing homes.  Because of their small sizes, all of these health-care providers are having money problems.  They are desperate because they have no money with which to operate, because they have to wait for payment from insurance companies.

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By Anne Rasmussen

Reviewed by Christopher Zoukis

“Patients are tired of seeking help from human beings who pretend to be robots.”

In An Unprintable Book, Anne Rasmussen, who was trained as an anthropologist, relates her experiences as a patient in Norway’s hospitals.  Rasmussen entered a psychiatric hospital in the 1980s, followed by being hospitalized for cancer in 1990, and was twice hospitalized for endometriosis in 1991, and 1992.

Rather than being a memoir of her experiences, Rasmussen states that she is “describing events, rarely experience.  My experience was far more bloody; a book built on experience would have been unreadable.”

Essentially, An Unprintable Book is Rasmussen’s complaint, her protest, her criticism about the health care she endured while hospitalized.  For example, Rasmussen’s stint in a mental hospital occurred because she became angry with her grant advisor, who arrived almost an hour late for their appointment, and had not bothered to read her draft for her proposed project.  Rasmussen’s friends insisted she see her psychiatrist, who prescribed medicine that made her suicidal.  Nevertheless, the psychiatrist wanted her to keep taking the medicine.  Rasmussen rejected the idea.  As a result, Rasmussen was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

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