Substandard Medical Care in U.S. Prisons: Improvement through Civil Liability Actions

Substandard Medical Care in U.S. Prisons: Improvement through Civil Liability Actions

Substandard Medical Care in U.S. Prisons: Improvement through Civil Liability Actions

Substandard Medical Care in U.S. Prisons: Improvement through Civil Liability Actions

Synopsis

Contrary to the ideal set up in Estelle v. Gamble (1976), inmates' medical needs were infrequently recognized by state courts and normally rejected through the examination of the two-pronged standard. Tsai contributes to existing literature by examining inadequate medical care and medical malpractice litigation against prison and jail physicians who have been sued in state courts by inmates during the past decade. By classifying the treatment actions or inactions that led inmates to file for civil remedies and examining the negative health outcomes that resulted from physicians' actions and inactions and their responses and justification techniques, Tsai analyzes state cases and develops a descriptive profile of how inmates, physicians, and the courts are defining and responding to medical misconduct in U.S. correctional facilities.

Excerpt

Over the past few decades, penologists have continuously portrayed the correctional systems of the United States as one in crisis and have declared each new level of overcrowding as historically unprecedented (Haney & Zimbardo, 1998; Plata v. Brown, 2011). The nation has long used incarceration as a crime control/social control measure. In the early 1990s, the United States incarcerated more persons per capita than any other industrialized or modern nation in the world, reaching rates up to between four to eight times as high as those in other countries (Christie, 1994; Mauer, 1995, 1997). Continuingly mounting until 2008, the United State has less than five percent of the world’s population, but it has nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners (Liptak, 2008). With the growing number of an imprisoned population, state and municipal governments spent increasing percentages of their budgets on criminal justice and correctional systems. In fact, the State of California was criticized for endowing a larger fiscal budget for corrections than for higher education (Butterfield, 1995; Chambliss, 1994; Jordan, 1995). In 1989, the government spent about $25 million on health care for inmates incarcerated in the nation’s prisons (Anno & Faiver, 1991; Thorburn, 1995). Though 27 percent less from a year earlier, overall corrections spent $111.3 million, or $3,258 per inmate, on health care in fiscal year 2010–2011 (Ortega, 2012). Controversially, while citizens disapprove of spending a substantial amount of the government’s budget being spent on correctional medical care, inmates continue to suffer . . .

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