Prisoners deserve proper legal, health care

The editorial regarding the quality of health care at the Albany County Correctional Facility could apply to many of the county facilities in New York (“Conscience and our jails,” Aug. 14). The Correction Medical Review Board of the state Commission of Correction has been advocating since its inception in the early 1970s for major improvements in the quality of health and mental health care for prisoners.

In the criminal justice industry, medical care has a comparable value as legal services for the indigent. Money is the usual factor cited when the quantity and quality of the care is deemed inadequate or grossly inept. Sheriffs, county executives and the legislative leadership at the state and local levels should strengthen the requirements for accreditation-level health care for prisoners.

Political support from the Medical Society of the State of New York and New York State Bar Association could facilitate the extension of the urgent and emergent care initiatives of the medical centers to the jails and prisons. It should be expected as part of their overall mission and charter to operate.

Health care should not be administered by the lowest bidder. Legal services should have the same level of support. It’s time for the legal and medical professions to assert their pro bono standards for equal protection and care for all persons in the community.

Karl H. Gohlke



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