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Report: Health Care in NY Prisons Inadequate

Friday, March 13, 2009

A new report by an independent watchdog group says inmates in New York State's 70 prisons lack adequate access to health care. WNYC's Kathleen Horan has more.

REPORTER: More than 60,000 people live behind bars in New York, and many have chronic diseases, like HIV. But the Correctional Association of New York says their health care is inconsistent.

The association evaluated medical care for inmates from 2004 through 2007. The findings detail long waiting lists to see a doctor in some facilities and a lack of access to medication. The report's author, Jack Beck, says many prisons don't offer routine care and he says that's not part of anyone's sentence.

BECK: People are incarcerated for an act that they did. It is ill advised to mistreat people under any circumstances and certainly a denial of healthcare is not an appropriate punishment for anyone.

REPORTER: Spokesman for the state Department of Correctional Services Eric Kriss, says New York recently increased spending and staffing on medical care. He says any perceived discrepancy in care among facilities could be a temporary variation in staff levels. For WNYC, I'm Kathleen Horan.

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