Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mad Mad Mad World

So according to some news accounts Bernie Madoff is dying of cancer. He's serving a 150 year sentence for scamming $65 billion from thousands of innocent people and institutions. At age 71 he isn't likely to serve out his sentence, irrespective of the cancer diagnosis. Either way you look at it, Madoff is bad-off.

There's a guy on Sue's cancer ward, 11 Long at UCSF medical center, who's being guarded by three armed guards 24 hours a day. Brent Auernheimer first reported to me that UCSF treats a lot of prison inmates when his mother was up here getting treatment. If the bad guy on Sue's ward is as sick as Sue I wouldn't worry too much about him running away. Besides, he's shackled at the ankles, so when he walks the halls with two armed deputies in tow he clinks.

For the bad guy here on 11 Long, think of the cost to the taxpayers. Figure $100,000 for the medical procedures, drugs and hospital stay, then add $50,000 for the guards, all for one man who's obviously a bad guy worthy of three armed guards 24/7. If 100 bad guys like him get treated in California annually, the cost to the state is $15,000,000. If 1,000 prisoners get treated for cancer this way it's $150,000,000. Statewide the cost for prisoner health care in California this year is going to be in the neighborhood of $7 billion this year. This while schools, libraries and every government program you like is getting cut back.

The guy who's promoting prisoners' constitutional rights to health care is J. Clark Kelso. He was a law professor at my law school in Sacramento 25 years ago. I never had classes from him but his father was my contracts professor. I'm not saying it's wrong or it's right, but I'm pretty sure this "constitutional coddling" of prisoners wouldn't have happened in John Dillinger's days.

But really, think about it. Here are two bad guys with cancer. It's hard to feel sorry for them or to pull for them. I'm kind of wondering why we allocate so much money to keeping them healthy. It's one thing to not mistreat prisoners. But is it mistreatment to not provide bad guys top-notch health care at the taxpayers' expense? And one has to wonder, why is it a constitutional guarantee for prisoners to have this kind of health care but not for all the people out here who haven't committed crimes? If that's the way it's going to be, then all your average law-abiding citizen who doesn't have health insurance has to do to get a stem cell transplant is commit a crime and get sent to prison for a while. Hmmm.

1 comment:

  1. And our veterans have to struggle to be heard, much less treated well, in the VA hospitals nationwide. Why don't we send the sicko's, the incarcerated to the VA, and let all the vets come to the truly caring places with doctors and nurses who haven't become so overwhelmed they no longer try to be compassionate? I hope your wife is starting to feel better... I have a relative with MM, so I follow Beth's feeds periodically.