by Priti Krishtel, The Crime Report
In a deeply divided political electorate, prison reform is one of the few issues that attracts bipartisan support. Yet there’s something missing from the current conversation about criminal justice reform: the high cost of prescription drugs.
In 1976, a landmark Supreme Court case, Estelle v. Gamble, established an individual’s fundamental right to access medical treatment while behind bars. Specifically, the court found that “deliberate indifference by prison personnel to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury constitutes cruel and unusual punishment contravening the Eighth Amendment.”
Prisons and jails, in other words, are constitutionally required to provide health care to people in their care.
When the drugs needed to treat prisoners are expensive, it puts enormous strain on state and county corrections budgets. That, in turn, leads to delays in treatment and substandard care that can have lasting, even deadly, consequences for people who are incarcerated.
It also impacts the state’s ability to improve prison conditions or implement rehabilitative programming that helps keep people from re-offending, things that the current First Step bill currently before the Senate seeks to do. [Ed Note: The First Step Act was signed into law by President Trump ...