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Frankly, Defendant, They Don’t Give A Damn — Better Hire An Attorney Who DOES!

| May 9, 2013 | Civil Rights |

Why do you need to hire the best lawyer you can find? Because when it comes to your health and well-being, I almost suspect that the state of California doesn’t give a damn whether you live or die.

Wait — that’s not true. Based on the way that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Governor Jerry Brown behave, the state of California more than gives a damn. They actually want prisoners to die, and they’re working hard to make it happen.

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Medical care in California prisons — all of the California prisons — is atrocious. It’s so atrocious that a federal court, citing the “depravity” of the system, ordered it into receivership in 2005. A receivership, in essence, is what you create when your 4-year-old kid wants to make breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day — you nod and smile, fish the egg shells out of the pancake batter, put out a couple small fires on the stove, and let the kid carry the tray into the bedroom. Congratulations, California — you’ve achieved “adorable moppet” status on the Competency Scale!

“But Charlie,” you say, “that was eight years ago! Surely things have improved under the watchful eye of the federal government, right?” And, wrong — strangely enough, help from the people who brought you the IRS, ‘Too Big To Fail,’ and ‘FEMA Goes To New Orleans!’ has yet to fix things. Not that it’s necessarily the federal government’s fault, of course. Remember, the state wants its prisoners dead.

More specifically, the state wants its prisoners to die of Valley Fever, an airborne fungus found throughout California’s Central Valley. It’s a potentially awful disease — complications include severe pneumonia, lung nodules, and disseminated disease, where the fungus spreads throughout the body and causes skin ulcers, severe joint pain, heart inflammation, urinary tract problems, abscesses, bone lesions, meningitis, and death. According to court filings, Valley Fever has killed nearly 40 inmates and hospitalized hundreds.

The federal official who controls prison medical care has ordered the most vulnerable prisoners — more than 3,200 men and women — transferred out of the two prisons with the highest Valley Fever risk. The Brown Administration is fighting the transfer order tooth and nail, apparently because it would be “confusing,” “premature,” and just plain inconvenient. Not as confusing and inconvenient as dying prematurely of an avoidable disease in a prison hospital, of course, but then that’s the rub — once you’re in prison, you just don’t count for much. If the state gave a damn, they wouldn’t have been ignoring this problem since 2006.

I’m no Rhett Butler — I give a damn, and I’m damned good. If you want to be treated like you count, give me a call.