The United States Supreme Court declared in 1976 that deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain…proscribed by the Eighth Amendment. It matters not whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner’s needs or by prison guards intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with treatment once prescribed—adequate prisoner medical care is required by the United States Constitution. My incarceration for four years at the Oakdale Satellite Prison Camp, a chronic health care level camp, gives me the perspective to challenge the generally promoted claim of the Bureau of Federal Prisons that it provides decent medical care by competent and caring medical practitioners to chronically unhealthy elderly prisoners. The same observation, to a slightly lesser extent, could be made with respect to deficiencies in the delivery of health care to prisoners of all ages, as it is all significantly deficient in access, competencies, courtesies and treatments extended by prison health care providers at every level of care, without regard to age. However, the frailer the prisoner, the more dangerous these health care deficiencies are to his health and, therefore, I believe, warrant separate attention. This paper uses first-hand experiences of elderly prisoners to dismantle the tale that prisoner healthcare meets constitutional standards.

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