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Advocates Call for Prison Reform as Prisoner Healthcare Costs Skyrocket

A recent Texas Tribune article detailed the skyrocketing costs of prison inmate health care for the state of Texas over the past few years. State expenditures on healthcare costs for inmates were over $750 million during the 2019 fiscal year. This figure is a 53% increase from the 2012 fiscal year, in which inmate medical care cost less than $500 million.

A primary reason behind these increased costs is the aging of the prison population. Although the Texas prison population has shrunk by three percent, the number of inmates ages 55 and older has risen by 65%. Although this group of inmates accounts for only one-eighth of the total prison population, they are responsible for almost one-half of the hospitalization costs among inmates. For example, healthcare costs for the ten inmates with the most severe medical problems rose to over $3.1 million in 2019.

Advocates Call for Prison Reform as Prisoner Healthcare Costs Skyrocket

While state officials have taken steps to cut costs by using federally-funded prescription drugs and telemedicine, these measures are not enough. Advocates state that systemic changes, such as the paroling of older inmates and keeping individuals with mental or substance abuse problems out of prison, are necessary to contain the costs further.

Even as lawmakers continue to look for ways to reduce inmate healthcare costs, inmates in an ongoing federal lawsuit continue to maintain that the level of healthcare that the prison system provides to inmates is constitutionally inadequate. For instance, inmates contend that prison officials have denied them drugs that the medical community considers to be the standard treatment for Hepatitis C. The antiviral drug in question has a cure rate of over 90%. Nonetheless, prison officials reportedly only are providing the drug for inmates who already have liver damage from the disease.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges in the state of Texas. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys.

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