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In jail, his left eye “just exploded”

Posted Jun 28 2009 9:16pm

The L.A. Times reports on Frank Lucero, a man arrested for drug use, petty theft.  Mr. Lucero had glaucoma and while he was in prison, his eye ailment went untreated.  

Lucero hadn’t been able to see much since being diagnosed with glaucoma while at Soledad State Prison in 2005. Still, with medication, he was able to work jobs moving furniture in between time served for drug use, petty theft and skipped meetings with his parole agent.
…three months into a yearlong sentence, with dozens of appeals to see an eye doctor unheeded and the pain growing unbearable, Lucero said, he still had neither the anti-inflammatory medication nor a prescription for glasses.
He had headaches and dizziness.  His equilibrium and speech were affected.
“Some days I couldn’t put together a sentence without yammering and stuttering,” he said.
On May 23, 2008, Lucero was sitting on his bunk, his head cradled in his hands, when his throbbing eyeball “just exploded.”

Lucero hadn’t been able to see much since being diagnosed with glaucoma while at Soledad State Prison in 2005. Still, with medication, he was able to work jobs moving furniture in between time served for drug use, petty theft and skipped meetings with his parole agent.

…three months into a yearlong sentence, with dozens of appeals to see an eye doctor unheeded and the pain growing unbearable, Lucero said, he still had neither the anti-inflammatory medication nor a prescription for glasses.

He had headaches and dizziness.  His equilibrium and speech were affected.

“Some days I couldn’t put together a sentence without yammering and stuttering,” he said.

On May 23, 2008, Lucero was sitting on his bunk, his head cradled in his hands, when his throbbing eyeball “just exploded.”

Should Prisoners get health insurance?
With state budgets reeling, how much of a priority should health care be for prison inmates?  Many people will argue that it should be very low on the list.  Why should prisoners get ‘free’ health care when there are 45 million employed Americans?

On the other hand, even employed Americans have the right to purchase medical using their own savings or through taking out debt.  Prisoners do not have this option.  Further, since the state is the custodian of these prisoners, it has a fiduciary right to give them at least a minimal level of health care.  

Giving Frank Lucero glaucoma drops would have been much cheaper than paying for an ambulance to after his eye burst from the pressure.

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