About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wouldn't it Be Cheaper...

This from the Associated Press:
A jury has awarded $1.73 million to the family of an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who died of penile cancer that went undiagnosed for more than a year while he was in state and federal custody.

After he was convicted of methamphetamine possession in 2005, Castaneda spent more than a year in state and federal facilities, where he was repeatedly denied adequate care for painful lesions on his penis, his lawyer Conal Doyle said Thursday.

Doctors who examined Castaneda twice ordered a biopsy, but he never got one. The first time the procedure was ordered, it was denied by a prison's chief physician. The procedure was apparently forgotten the second time because a doctor failed to follow up. A third time, a federal physician ordered a biopsy but Castaneda was released before it could be done.

Castaneda was given only pain pills and clean boxer shorts every day, and his condition worsened until he had to have his penis amputated in 2007. He died shortly afterward at age 36.

Two things I might say about this:
1) Why was he in prison? Why wasn't he in a medical rehab facility? Medical rehab has proven - time and again by the Rand Corporation - to be far more effective in terms of cost and changing behavior.

2) Was he denied care because he was illegal? Would it not have been far more effective to provide care at the start rather than pay for incarceration and then the cost of legal bills. This decision doesn't even cover the federal law suit pending against the penal system in LA.

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