Sunday, August 12, 2012

First, Do No Harm

In a "total institution" it can be expected that we are, as a matter of policy, rendered completely dependent upon the institution for the most basic of services. And in many respects, this is quite true. It is through such dependence that control is exercised.
Food, for instance, is fundamental and a perpetual source of discontent. We must attend the dining hall twice daily to collect grub. Yet this activity highlights a crack in the control and dependence mechanisms, in that a man with access to enough money can easily obtain food from other sources (legitimate and not) to allow him to avoid the institution's offerings. In such a way, a tiny sphere of independence can be carved out within the total institution.
There are many such activities where, with skill or resources, the prisoner can avoid dependence on his keepers. But there is one "service", one aspect of imprisonment which inevitably demands dependence, through a total lack of other options. And that service is Healthcare.
No matter what resources the con can wield, no matter how wise in the ways of jailcraft, no matter his level of deviousness, Healthcare looms large and inescapable on his horizons. For, save heroin and adjuncts used for pain relief, Healthcare has a monopoly on the specialist medical knowledge and treatments. And this is why I insist on holding Healthcare staff to a far higher standard than just about any other department in the prison.

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