Health Care is not just of concern to the private sector. Health Care reaches into the prison system as well. Federal and state laws have been created to ensure that the prison system provides health care through the medical facilities available. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is the government agency that regulates the health care that is given to federal inmates in the United States. The BOP licenses’, certifies, accredits, and runs the background checks necessary to obtain employment.
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Created on May 14, 1930 by President Herbert Hoover the Federal Bureau of Prisons is a subdivision of the United States Justice Department. The BOP is responsible for the administration of the Federal prison system. According to the Bureau of Prisons, “Our inmate population consists of people awaiting trial for violating federal laws or those who have already been convicted of committing a federal crime” (“Federal Inmates,” n.d., p. 1). The BOP is responsible for providing compassionate care to the inmates in the system and to help the employees that work in the system to maintain open minds towards the situation of the inmates. This does not mean to give the inmates special treatment but being able to have some understanding of what the inmate is going through being incarcerated. The BOP is responsible for providing health care to the inmates in agreement with federal and state laws.
Health care impact
The BOP provides health care for the inmates. The services provided by the BOP are medical, dental, and mental health services. As of May 1, 2014 there are 216,787 inmates and 39,226 staff members in the Federal prison system. For some of the inmates, the health care services received while incarcerated are the first they have ever had in their lives. As the current trend of health wellness is moving forward throughout the rest of the country the BOP has adopted the same thought process. Health wellness and prevention is being taught in the prison system to inmates. Counseling is given during visits with health care professionals. Education is given about medications, body wellness, infectious disease prevention, and chronic care management for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health care problem the inmate may have.
The medical staff is included in the care the BOP extends throughout the prison system. Clean air environments, safe work spaces, correct equipment is provided to health care workers to provide the best care they can. Care services are coordinated with health care providers in the community that are willing to help inmates with their health issues or that are employed by the BOP to provide services.
Example of duties
Tele-health care is a new and innovative way that inmates are able to access care that is not onsite at the facility they are housed in. Efficient health care is recognized in the State of Wisconsin where weekly trips to the closest health care facility were 55 miles away. Dr. Armand Start says, “The system allows physicians to evaluate the inmate while discussing the case with correctional personnel. Communication is an integral part of diagnosing and treating patients. The physician-to-physician contact also empowers the corrections staff to learn more about the conditions of their inmates” (“Telemedicine,” 1995, p. 1). Citizens are very aware of the possibility of the danger involved when transporting prisons anywhere outside of the facility. This option also gives the surrounding community a sense of peace.
Telemedicine also gives inmates the ability to continue mental health care with their established physician. Inmates who are not able to leave their cells because of sickness, injury, or discipline reasons can still attend their sessions through telemedicine. Also, access to other specialized health care services is recognized through telemedicine that historically would not be available to inmates.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is responsible for executing lethal injections on the federal level. The Bureau of Prisons maintains the federal location where lethal injections are carried out when an inmate has exhausted all available options to fight their conviction and sentencing. The facility is in Terre Haute, Indiana. The last person executed at the Terre Haute facility was Timothy McVey who bombed the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killing 168 people. He was executed June 11, 2001.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons must adhere to regulations when providing health care to the inmate population. Regulations and guidelines may vary from facility to facility, but the BOP has the authority to intervene regardless the situation. The BOP is responsible for maintaining the regulations that are used so that inmates are not abused or under cared for. Health care services are regulated by the BOP and adherence to the regulations established must be followed by the individual facilities.
The Bureau of Prisons carefully lists the inmate’s health care rights and the inmate’s responsibilities in order have access those rights. In the Federal Correction Institution at Terminal Island, California the Inmate Information Handbook lists out the specific rights to health care access each inmate has and then the handbook lists the inmate’s responsibility to be able to access the health care. An example is the inmate has the right to access all services on Terminal Island including medical, dental, and all support services but the inmate has the responsibility to “to comply with the health care policies of this institution, and follow recommended treatment plans established for you, by health care providers.
You have the responsibility to provide accurate and complete information about complaints, past illnesses, hospitalizations, medications and other matters of care” (Handbook, 2011, p. 19). The BOP establishes with the inmate that the inmate does have rights and is entitled to health care but only if the inmates can control themselves and be responsible for their actions. Inmates usually do not distinguish the two aspects listed out in the handbook and believe their rights are being violated when they are acting violently or unsafely around health care providers. The BOP is very clear on what is expected of the inmate so they can access their health care rights.
The American Correctional Association (ACA) develops national standards for the accreditation of correctional facilities. The ACA states, “Through accreditation, an agency is able to maintain a balance between protecting the public, and providing an environment that safeguards the life, health and safety of staff and offenders” (Accreditation n.d., p. 1). Participating in the accreditation is voluntary by the facility. If a correctional facility wants to be accredited there is an intense 18-month process that has to be completed by the facility. Self-evaluations, procedures, and policies are reviewed during the entire three-year accreditation process. Employees are required to have the correct certification or licensure in order to be hired and to maintain employment that is required by the state or agency they work for. Employees must continue to renew their licenses and stay current on their required continuing medical education credits. Although employees are ultimately responsible for their licensure the facility must do reviews of employee records to start the process off reminding the employee of eminent expirations.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons is the regulating agency that sets the precedent for correctional facilities and prisons in the United States. The Federal Bureau of Prisons regulates the health care given to the inmates that are incarcerated in the prison system. The health care given to the inmates is their right to receive, but they are held to their own responsibilities to be able to access the health care offered to them. The prison health care system is evolving to create a better system for inmates just as the private health care system is evolving throughout the Unites States to provide better health care for its citizens.