Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 4.21

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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14 Comments

  1. I’ve lived in Texas for six years now and I have yet to see a live armadillo (yes, I realize they are nocturnal but so am I), but I don’t think I could count the number of roadkilled armadilloes I’ve seen.

    On a side note: Frogger! Now there’s a videogame that required some skill.

  2. I’ve lived in Texas for about 75% of my life, and I haven’t seen a living armadillo in about fifteen years. I also haven’t looked for one in about fifteen years, and I think the two are related. They’re quiet and shy animals that tend to mind their own business and don’t bother anyone. Only reason you see so many roadkill ones is that the body stays there for longer than most animals becuase the shell is inedible to pretty much everything in the state (well, except tiger sharks, but they tend to stay off the roads).

  3. The roadkill link is dead. (at least, from my end of the internet).

    As for having teeth pulled, I don’t get it. If they’re badly rotten, shouldn’t they be pulled anyway? And can’t they get false teeth in return?

  4. I don’t mean to be snide or jaded but the first and most obvious choice for the women in prison should have been to NOT commit the crime that separated them from their children in the first place. Being separated from ones teeth to be reunited with ones child does not seem like a very difficult choice to me. Sad, but not difficult.

  5. OK, I’ve read the teeth or baby article twice and one thing that is NOT mentioned in the article is that tooth extraction is normal and often necessary dental care when teeth are degraded by methamphetamine use and associated poor dental hygiene. The implication of the article is that these unfortunate women only need some fillings or a little dental work. Often what would be required to save the infected tooth/teeth is a root canal and a crown or caps after the infected area of the tooth of removed. The emotional appeal (straw man) of the story is a complete dodge of the sad facts of drug related dental damage. The level of care needed is usually not even covered by most peoples regular dental insurance. Tooth removal is dental care. It is sad that self esteem issues come along with having teeth removed but there are many agencies that provide low cost or free dentures for folk transitioning back into society from treatment or prison. This includes state medical coverage which will often cover dentures because having false teeth or a partial prevents other health issues down the road. Also for a parent to have significant dental infections can present a risk of spreading the infection to their infants.

    I’m not sure what the standard for medical and dental care is in most prisons, but there are always different standards of care depending on resources. And while having severely damaged and infected teeth removed is getting dental care, it would be hard to imagine someone with thirteen very infected and damaged teeth getting $25,000 in dental care when dental resources for low income children (usually a priority) is not adequately funded by most states. It doesn’t appear to me that the author did his research with regard to the severity or nature of teeth damage caused by methamphetamine use coupled with chronic neglect. Also infected teeth can cause any number of other series health problems for an adult including septic infections, heart disease and bone infections. Most folk have no idea what methamphetamine really does to your teeth and brain. I’ve been dealing with parents who have these issues for over twenty years and even outside of prison folk would not likely have any better options with available state funded dental care.

  6. Prison healthcare just so happens to be one of my areas of research, so I’ll chime in here…

    First, how healthcare is provided to regular citizens is different than healthcare provide to individuals in state custody be it prison, jail, or other secure facility. Under the Estelle 1976 Supreme Court decision, all inmates have an 8th amendment right to care. Actually, three rights are given: the right to access care; the right to the care that is ordered; and the right to professional medical judgement. No other citizens have these rights because they derive 8th Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment inflicted as “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.”

    So the expected standard of care given to inmates is higher than the expected standard of care given to normal citizens and it should be the same regardless of the prison system one is incarcerated. Despite this, prison healthcare is atrocious because most prison systems balance the cost of lawsuits vs. the cost of treatment. Lately, they’ve been paying out enormous sums of money due to deliberate indifference cases brought under the Estelle decision.

    Point of fact, the California prison system was placed in federal receivership in 2005 because of serious constitutional deficiencies in how it provides medical care. Indeed, in the decision itself, Plata v. Schwarzenegger, the judge stated that “it is an uncontested fact that, on average, an inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six to seven days due to constitutional deficiencies in the CDCR’s medical delivery system.”

    So beyond poor dental care, California is killing its inmates because of deficiencies in its medical services.

    What I get from the the story is that California still does not have enough medical resources to treat its inmates and this is causing further harm to inmates and their families.

    Lastly, it is irrelevant whether the physical damage done to an inmate was inflicted pre-incarceration via drugs, the state has a constitutional duty to treat under the 8th amendment. One can’t compare healthcare givent to inmates with healthcare given to normal citizens because there are different constitutional guarantees that come into play…

  7. Another way to approach the lack of medical care in California prisons might be to treat it as a war crime. Incarcerated civilians are covered as “protected persons” under the 4th Geneva Convention.

    http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/380?OpenDocument

    In article 147, Grave Breaches are defined including “causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health”. Certainly forcing a woman to have her teeth pulled to have contact with her infant constitutes a Grave Breach.

    Grave Breaches of the Geneva Convention are defined as War Crimes under the War Crime Act of 1996. The military commissions act of 2006 watered that down, but it might still be enough to bring suit under. It does specifically prohibit “CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT DEFINED.—In this subsection, the term ‘‘cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment’’ means cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.”

    If there already is a court order that asserts punishments prohibited under the 8th Amendment are being inflicted, that would seem to be criminalized under the War Crime Act of 1996. Following orders is not a defense.

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