Medical Procedure Denied

By Darin Bufalino

       Recently Federal District Court Judge Mark Wolf made a ruling in which the court found that a prisoner in the care and custody of the Massachusetts Department of Correction (Mass DOC) is being denied a medical procedure that he and his doctors claim is needed. 

The medical procedure, although repulsive to many, is, in the opinion of the Mass DOC’s own medical expert, needed for this prisoner.  Judge Wolf ordered the Mass DOC to reverse its position and allow the medical procedure to be performed on the prisoner. 

This ruling comes after more than a decade of litigation.  Taxpayers and politicians are indignant with the court’s decision.  They are of the opinion that Judge Wolf erred in some judicial way and want the Mass DOC to appeal his decision to a higher court.

Judge Wolf's decision will not be overturned on appeal for the simple reason that the Mass DOC cannot be allowed to deny medical treatment arbitrarily.  In a court of law the Mass DOC and its then-Commissioner Kathleen Dennehy were found to be deficient.  Actually, the court found them to be less than truthful, along with too many negative adjectives to list here.

At issue is not this one medical procedure or treatment and the "flood gates" it may open.  The issue is the failure of the Mass DOC to provide medical treatment to a sick prisoner.  The fact that the treatment is gender re-assignment is moot.

For all the posturing of the politicians on this issue, I would ask them how many letters and phone calls from prisoners, their families, and friends, they have received about a tooth with a cavity that was extracted instead of filled.  A knee in need of arthroscopy, or a lifer confined to a wheel chair in need of a hip replacement?  Thousands?  Tens of thousands in the last decade? 

Because the public finds the issue at hand offensive, the media is full of polls berating the court’s decision.  What the taxpayers and politicians should take issue with are the facts revealed in Judge Wolf's courtroom.  Taxpayers, politicians and the Mass DOC have a moral and legal obligation to provide health care equal to the level found in the community to all prisoners at all times regardless of race, religion, or gender.  It is the law and Mass DOC should not be allowed to circumvent it.


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