Daily Prison Life Series: Florida Prisoner Michael Henderson

Written by Michael Henderson

October 14, 2021

Continuing education in the Daily Life series would be incomplete without a lesson on the so-called health care that’s not provided in the Florida prison system. I know from reading extensively about the health care management companies that this issue is not unique to Florida, but this is where I am and this is what I can personally attest to.

I think it’s important to intermingle this issue with the fact that The New Jim Crow is alive and well in Florida. It’s very Kafkaesque, or maybe they are just expecting the prisoners will develop some form of Stockholm syndrome. Either way prisoners are forced into labor with absolutely zero recognition for their labors. Prisoners receive no pay for work in Florida.

I don’t mind sharing with you, my family, the bodily malfunctions my nearly sixty year-old self is experiencing. It completes the picture. I have, until coming to Columbia correctional, been equipped with dual knee braces and a walking cane. X-rays for the past six years or so have shown the arthritic deterioration of my knees, shoulders, neck, etcetera, etcetera. But lo and behold, a new health care management company and transfer to a different region, hallelujah I’m all cured!

A.R.N.P. Robinson decided that since the new company, Centurion Health Care, has changed their standards, all the previously prescribed apparatuses – canes, braces, wheel chairs and just about anything the Americans With Disabilities Act did absolutely not allow them to take, was recalled.

With the knowledge that the prison system is aging, the trick is to simply disavow that there is even the existence of a problem and you can claim plausible deniability. For instance, my medical file has been thinned three or four times and the previously filed work has been stored somewhere other than where it’s accessible. Sooo, the new A.R.N.P. says she cannot find where I have a hiatal hernia. Hence, she can deny giving me the medication that is needed to keep me from choking on my food and aspirating on my own upchuck. Let’s not even consider the suffering that comes with not being able to consume a meal in the three allotted minutes the officers are giving you to eat in the first place. But even worse is that the officers are trained to view every inmate as being a malingerer. A fake. Now even when someone is vomiting their meal into the grass, they must be faking it to some nefarious ends. This happened to me a couple of days ago when I had to step outside the chow hall to save myself from choking after literally the first bite. Sgt. Morris would not allow me to eat my meal and threatened me with confinement unless I left the chow hall.

This type of treatment is endemic in the prisons in this country. Why, because of Florida Statute 921.002(1)(b) which states The primary purpose of sentencing is to punish the offender. Rehabilitation is a desired goal of the criminal justice system but is subordinate to the goal of punishment. Florida, you are exposed. The question is will you look at yourselves in all your ignominy and start caring about and for your people?

I must again make clear, this culture of not caring for our people is not limited to Florida. It’s a condition that is destroying our people, our culture, and our chances of survival. So the next time you think incarcerated persons are taken taken care of by ”the system,’ ask any inmate if they are a better person because they spent time in the most deplorable conditions imaginable – in a country that is considered a world leader. You shouldn’t be surprised by the answers.

Peace and love to everyone. Namaste.

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