Nobody knows when the Florida Supreme Court will decide this issue, or how they will rule when they do...all we can do is wait it out and until then I will remain under an active death warrant.
So, this week I would like to address another matter - the systemic denial of adequate medical care in the Florida prison system. Generally, I don't talk about my own health problems as it's not something I want to put out there for public consumption. But like so many others here at Florida State Prison - and the Florida prison system as a whole - it's gotten so bad that I must address it and ask for help from those who are reading this.
It's an undisputed fact that many years ago while serving in the Army I had an on-duty accident that resulted in a lengthy hospitalization and my honorable discharge. I am now a legally recognized "disabled veteran" and suffer a permanent physical disability recognized as "degenerative disc disease" in the lower lumbar spine, and "lumbar radiculopathy" with incomplete mild paralysis. What this means in layman's terms is that when I suffered this accident, it resulted in permanent and progressively degenerate damage to my spinal cord that produces often extreme physical pain.
In the many years that I've been in the Florida prison system I have come to accept that the best I can hope for is minimal treatment. If I'm lucky, I can get non-narcotic pain medication to try to manage the pain. Generally, that means a prescription of extra strength Ibuprofen or Naproxen. Being that I am in prison, they're not going to prescribe anything stronger so the most I can do is try to manage the pain, mostly by avoiding physical exertions that would cause a flare-up.
As my condition predictably progressed through the years, so too has the now almost constant pain substantially increased to the extent that even the Naproxen or Ibuprofen have little effect. Again, I generally accept that this is prison and they are not going to do anything more than the minimum. However, shortly after my death warrant was signed and I was transferred to Florida State Prison, I began having problems getting even the Naproxen that that I regularly received, and the Flexeril that I received as a muscle relaxer so that the muscle spasms regularly suffer will settle down enough so that at least I can sleep at night.
The thing is, I'm not alone, since Florida contracted prison medical care to a private company called 'Corizon", which is a for-profit healthcare provider with a long history of denying adequate health care, complaints such as mine have become only too common. These privately contracted health care providers get paid the same whether they actually provide adequate health care or not and so every dollar they spend providing treatments, or even prescribing medication, takes money out of their own pockets and for-profit companies cannot stay in business long if they don't make a profit.
This point needs to be addressed momentarily - the reason America has the highest incarceration rate in the world today is because the American prison system is a for-profit multibillion-dollar industry, and there are thousands of companies that compete for contracts to provide services to prisoners, from sypplying toilet paper, food, health care - even running entire prisons. Most would argue that that doesn't make any sense as prisons cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year.
However, while the taxpayers to pay obscene amounts of money to keep all those prisoners locked up, what is not as obvious is that companies wanting to provide services to this prison industry win the contract by donating huge sums of money to politicians running for office. And when the politicians win elected office, they reward their benefactors with lucrative contracts, only too often amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. That's how the system really works.
Companies like Corizon have a long history of being rewarded contracts to provide health care only to then refuse to provide basic health care as a means of increasing their own profits. In fact, Corizon itself previously went by another corporate name that was awarded a contract to provide medical care to Florida prisoners and provided such deliberately incompetence care that prisoners died, and the contract was terminated...the company then changed the name of the corporation to Corizon, donated huge sums of money to State politicians running for election, and got the contract back.
In the past year the health care provided by Corizon has gotten so bad that again many prisoners died from being denied adequate medical care. Only after the media made it a story did the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Florida legislature open investigations into the systematic deprivation of adequate health care in Florida prisons. Not surprisingly, neither the FDLE or the Florida legislative actually did anything - not a single person within the Corizon corporation was held responsible for the many inmate deaths resulting from the deliberate denial of adequate medical care..not even one! As soon as the mainstream media lost interest, the whole issue quickly died.
That's how healthcare in American prisons system really works - it's a completely corrupt process in which the only thing that matters is that the company awarded the contract makes millions while the prisoners suffer and die - and since we are prisoners nobody really cares.
Back to my own problems with receiving even minimal medical care. After my death warrant was signed and I was transferred to Florida State Prison, my prescription "expired" and the doctor simply refused to renew them. They play all kind of games to try to blame the prisonor for the denial of adequate medical care. In my case, they said that before my prescriptions could be renewed, I needed to have a blood test, and in late February 2016 I had the blood taken, then was seen by "dr. Lee", who refused to renew my medication. I then took the matter to the Florida state prison Warden, who tried to help - only to have the Corizon-employed Health Services administrator blatantly lie to the Warden, telling him that I refused to the blood test, claiming instead that I was seen on March 17th, 2016 and counseled on the importance of providing blood test.
These are the games they play. Anytime you file a formal grievance about the denial of adequate medical care it comes back with the same response - put in a request for "sick call" (the process available to seek medical care). But as with me, and most others, I did put in numerous "sick call" requests, but the Corizon staff will then wait up to several weeks and then do nothing but talk to you at cell front, and they'll tell you to put in another "sick call" request, then another - and if you're lucky several months later you might actually see a doctor, who will then tell you that you need to do another "updated" blood test before medication can be prescribed, and ofter you wait for weeks to have that done, they'll claim you "refused" to do the blood test, and you must start the whole process over again. Of course, they can never produce a signed 'refusal' form as you didn't refuse.