I made a comparison in yesterdays post of lack of access to health care being akin to physical torture. After reading the following article this morning, I am convinced that health care is being used as a means of punishment and torture here within the borders of the United States and not just in the way that it coerces working people into a powerless position, but also the way it is being managed in our country's jails.

"The Terrible Case of Jamie Scott: How an $11 Robbery in Mississippi May End in a Death Sentence"

The article covers most of the case of Jamie Scott who along with her sister was sentenced to life after a 1993 robbery. Jamie Scott is currently suffering from kidney failure and not getting the care she needs. Her sister Gladys has offered her a kidney if she is a match, but it does not appear that this is even being taken into consideration. Is it not enough to lock a young woman up for life, for something that (if she did do) was a mistake? I grew up believing that we were a country founded on justice. That our system of law and courts were designed to create a balance where people would receive what they deserved. I now realize the problem of punishment, which I see our judicial system is actually based on, especially the problem of jails. Punishment is not about justice; it is not about finding an appropriate consequence for someone's actions. Punishment is about power and proving one's power over another. It is an ostentatious display of the might of government and money. It generally has little to do with the people that it effects. And the backlash of this focus on punishment rather than justice is people are tortured, people are hurt, people are dying at the hand of those that claim to be keeping order.

I have been reading "By the Light of My Father's Smile" by Alice Walker and wrote down the following, the notion of civilization is the pressing down of life. Our punishment of so many, our investment in building more jails is a visual reminder of our civilization's lack of respect and interest in life. Hurting others and being hurt is unavoidable in life. Is civilization just a means to hide this, to make us think that those that hurt us are wrong and should be punished? If we never learn that it is inevitable that we hurt and get hurt how will we grow. I sat next to a two year old on the subway in New York the last time I was there. He was not the least bit shy and started to throw himself toward me every time the train would move. His mother was embarrassed and tried to get him to lean toward her. Eventually this encouraged him to bounce between the two of us, first bumping into her arm and then mine. At some point in this, he misjudged and bumped his head on the seat behind him. His fun was over, the look of betrayal on his face was heartbreaking. He looked to me with anger and hit me. I told him he could not blame me for that. I don't know if he understood, but I like to think that he did and that it will be a reminder to him that someone doesn't always need to be punished for the hurt that we feel.

And returning to the problem of health care being used as punishment. People in jails are already punished, they have lost their freedom, have strained connections with family and friends because they cannot be near them, do not have the choice of what to do and when. Why would they need to be tortured by not getting the medical treatment they need? This just seems cruel. This is perpetuation of hurt, the increasing of pain, and it will only lead to more suffering.