A Deadly Lack of Care for Some of America’s Sickest: Ex-Inmates

This article starts off by retelling the story of ex-inmate Ernest who found himself being sentenced to prison for killing his 2 year old daughter due to a psychotic break down. The primary concern now is what will happen to him having been released very recently, and being uninsured. The state failed to enroll him in medicaid, despite the fact that under the Affordable Care Act Indiana had expanded the health insurance program to most ex-convicts. However, Ernest represents the former inmate population that doesn’t get to have insurance based on technicalities and state level politics.

Ernest has a serious mental disorder that caused him to commit his first crime, in the first place. Upon his release he was supposed to be guaranteed, however 31 states that have enacted medicaid do not have adequate institutions in place to provide services for ex-convicts. As many as 16 states have no procedure in place at all to provide medicaid for ex-convicts trying to re-enter communities. Many of these former prisoners a ill, and have chronic diseases.

This has everything to do with class because we can so clearly see how prison traps the bodies of these people. Ernest was only in jail in the first place because he had  a breakdown and killed his daughter. Had Ernest been given the proper treatment from the beginning he may never have killed his daughter. This puts people like Ernest in a position where they are in and out of jails because they can get treatment there, and because of the possibility that they might have another breakdown  which causes them to commit a crime.  This government inaction is what allows the prison industrial complex to survive.



2 thoughts on “A Deadly Lack of Care for Some of America’s Sickest: Ex-Inmates”

  1. I thought that this article brought up some interesting aspects involved with mental health, insurance and the prison system in the United States. As you discussed, I think it is difficult for felons in many different regards, that usually results in many becoming repeat offenders. But I had never previously thought about the repercussions when these felons have health concerns, especially mental health concerns, to try and find insurance to continue to receive their very important medication. It especially shocked me that these felons could not even get medicaid. I think this is clearly a policy issue that needs to be resolved so that these people do not feel like jail is the only way that they can get their important medication. As shown in the article, some people are legitimately scared to leave prison, and leave their medication behind. I believe that everyone has a right to medication but I think that an even higher priority should be given to medicine for mental illnesses so that these people have the best shot they can to improve their lives and rebuild their lives after prison.

  2. I think your article perfectly highlights how institutions essentially encourage recidivism. So many ex-inmates rely on medicaid as their only insurance, but are often denied access to crucial services like mental health care under such programs. Because they don’t have access to these services, they often end up back in prison. This isn’t just the case for medicaid, but also for other services like food stamps and the housing system. I have read countless stories where an ex-prisoner has no secure housing and ends up sleeping on the streets only to later be arrested for loitering or trespassing. Ernest and the countless other people who have been in his same situation are just further proof of how our criminal justice system was never really intended to prevent crime or protect people.

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