Sunday, August 2, 2009

Disease in Wisconsin Prisons

By Juan W
Wisconsin's prisons are turning from prison warehousing facilities into infectious disease breeding grounds. Incarceration is intended to he the punishment handed down by courts for crimes committed against society by those incarcerated, however, inadequate screening and inadequate medical care in Wisconsin’s institutions is having the perverse effect of potentially hand­ing a life sentence to prisoners even though Wisconsin does not have the death penalty, by propagating serious contagious diseases into the prison general population.
As a prisoner, I came into the Wisconsin Prison System in 1994, I'd never been infected with any kind of disease that carried a potential life threat or to be associated with one, and all testing conducted on me was 100 % negative to any anti­bodies. In 2006, while at the Waupun Correctional Institution I’ve had the unfortunate luck to be exposed to a vicious infectious disease called mrsa a disfiguring and sometimes lethal staphylococcus (staph) infection, notably penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).
Like many, I'd never heard of this disease before the unfortunate luck of being exposed to it... mRsa typically presents itself as painful oozing boils in moist areas under the arms or near the genitals. The bacteria enters minor breaks in the skin and rapidly colonizes. If the disease reaches one's spinal fluid, death can occur within 24 hours.
The prisoner who exposed me to this deadly disease contracted it himself by being forced to lie down and sleep on a filthy blood, and feces smeared mattress while in the Manitowoc County Jail. And then when he came here from Dodge it was noted within his medical file that he was a carrier of the MRSA infection. However, sadly, Waupun's medical staff cleared him to be in the mainstream general populace even though he was a carrier of MRSA infection.
I remember him calling me one day and saying that he was in trouble, going on to say he had a life threatening disease and inquiring how could he file a lawsuit against Manitowoc County Jail. Being ignorant of this disease, I read paperwork he had given me to read and afterwards I'd regretted touching the paper, the many times I'd used the telephone behind him, of having played basketball with him, and cards, and although it was a fear, that fear had become a reality as I first developed a bump that appeared as if it were a spider or insect bite. The good news is that MRSA is preventable in a normal atmosphere by utilizing basic personal hygiene skills, frequent hand washing with soap and hot water.
However, because many prisoners are ushered out of County Jail facilities right off the streets and into prisons that are filthy, where clothes and linens are communal property, blankets that are poorly washed and cleaned or changed once every six months, cells are not properly sanitized and cleaned after each prisoner is moved, mattresses are not properly sterilized, and clothing and linen are merely packed full in industrial washers without adequate cleaning powders or bleaches as well room to aerate and clean the dirty, soiled clothing. This allows for breeding grounds of active diseases.
MRSA can be spread through sneezing, coughing, left on clothing that has been inadequately washed in hot water and yet, Wisconsin's DOC Official does not get this, especially Waupun Correctional Institution's administrative and health service body, where mtrsa is prevalent and allowed to fester in these nasty cells which the disease is merely painted over. The cells are never power washed clean with steaming hot water and bleach to rid it of any infectious disease like staph.
But yet, they keep rotating prisoners in and out these allegedly isolated cells where MRSA could be lying in wait, and just recently, I've talked to a guy where MRSA is eating a hole in his leg, and he's receiving inadequate health care here at Waupun.
It only saddens me that no one in society care enough to say enough is enough, we did not send these men to prison as death sentences. And what should be more frightening and alarming to society is many released prisoners who aren't concerned about their health are returning to our community as carriers of this disease and a myriad of many other infectious diseases.
Presently, the state has been alarmed over the outbreak of measles which has hit the schools causing excitement and concern with parents, if this same excitement and concern of the public could be generated and came on board to help the silent voice of prisoners in making the prison health service facilities and prison administrators become more aware of the disease and contagions, it would be more remarkable and would help stamp out this growing threat in Wisconsin's prisons.

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