Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

In jail, his left eye “just exploded”

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Jun• 28•09

The L.A. Times reports on Frank Lucero, a man arrested for drug use, petty theft.  Mr. Lucero had glaucoma and while he was in prison, his eye ailment went untreated.  

Lucero hadn’t been able to see much since being diagnosed with glaucoma while at Soledad State Prison in 2005. Still, with medication, he was able to work jobs moving furniture in between time served for drug use, petty theft and skipped meetings with his parole agent.
…three months into a yearlong sentence, with dozens of appeals to see an eye doctor unheeded and the pain growing unbearable, Lucero said, he still had neither the anti-inflammatory medication nor a prescription for glasses.
He had headaches and dizziness.  His equilibrium and speech were affected.
“Some days I couldn’t put together a sentence without yammering and stuttering,” he said.
On May 23, 2008, Lucero was sitting on his bunk, his head cradled in his hands, when his throbbing eyeball “just exploded.”

Lucero hadn’t been able to see much since being diagnosed with glaucoma while at Soledad State Prison in 2005. Still, with medication, he was able to work jobs moving furniture in between time served for drug use, petty theft and skipped meetings with his parole agent.

…three months into a yearlong sentence, with dozens of appeals to see an eye doctor unheeded and the pain growing unbearable, Lucero said, he still had neither the anti-inflammatory medication nor a prescription for glasses.

He had headaches and dizziness.  His equilibrium and speech were affected.

“Some days I couldn’t put together a sentence without yammering and stuttering,” he said.

On May 23, 2008, Lucero was sitting on his bunk, his head cradled in his hands, when his throbbing eyeball “just exploded.”

Should Prisoners get health insurance?
With state budgets reeling, how much of a priority should health care be for prison inmates?  Many people will argue that it should be very low on the list.  Why should prisoners get ‘free’ health care when there are 45 million employed Americans?

On the other hand, even employed Americans have the right to purchase medical using their own savings or through taking out debt.  Prisoners do not have this option.  Further, since the state is the custodian of these prisoners, it has a fiduciary right to give them at least a minimal level of health care.  

Giving Frank Lucero glaucoma drops would have been much cheaper than paying for an ambulance to after his eye burst from the pressure.

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5 Comments

  1. [...] Here is the original post: Healthcare Economist · In jail, his left eye “just exploded” [...]

  2. Dang, his eye exploded? That is just nuts. I think they should get some kind of health care… What do we do now just let inmates die? This is a crazy problem. If we gave them full health care then people would just commit a crime whenever they needed health care and could not afford it. What is the answer? I don’t know.

  3. No one else commented? I’ve been thinking about the solution further.. perhaps is a national health care program so the question of no health care and health care would be mute amongst inmates and citizens!

  4. Frances Saldana says:

    Mr. Lucero was not a murderer. He was in prison for petty theft and skipping his meetings with parole officer – yet he was actually given tortured in a very severe way – simply from neglect. I’m sure what will transpire from this neglect will now cost taxpayers a horrific amount of money, not to mention the suffering and agony that Mr. Lucero will suffer for the rest of his life from the loss of his eye. This kind of neglect takes place, not only in prison, but also in privately owned care homes. If there is no family member, friend, or active conservator to oversee the care of an in-mate or a disabled person in a care home, may God bless and watch over them, because this sort of thing will happen over and over again simply from neglect.

  5. Paula Risner says:

    We have a loved one serving a 15 to life sentence @ Soledad. The lack of medical treatment has almost killed him twice…that we are aware of. Pressure on the brain caused by valley fever was the first incident. The guards & others in charge said he was faking an illness. 2nd incident was due to a malfunctioning shunt, again, they said he was faking it. He has done 20 years on this 15-life & almost died twice. Will they not be happy until they kill him???????!!!!!!!! Inmate or not…. EVERYONE is entitled to medical attention. Period. Who are they to say if someone is faking an illness. Do the guards now have medical degrees? WTF.

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