We Must Fix It Before We Break It

Recently we debated why the state should provide healthcare to inmates on death row. After all, if they are going to die anyway, why must it be by the hand of the executioner, right?

Look at the case of James Washington, a man sentenced to fifteen years for second degree murder who suffered a heart attack in prison. Mr. Washington confessed to an unsolved murder before he felt he was sure to die of a heart attack. He did not die. He fully recuperated at the hands of the medical staff provided by the Tennessee prison system, where Mr. Washington was imprisoned.

Mr. Washington received a conviction for his confession and is now facing life in prison.  He claimed at trial that his confession was the result of a hallucination brought on by the medication received for the heart attack; an argument not convincing to the jury.

This may not bring us closer to resolving our prisoner’s dilemma—to treat a dying inmate. Mr. Washington was not on death row. Arguably, he deserves treatment while a death row inmate has a weaker argument. It is not the sentence that merits this discussion as it is the result of the treatment. A cold case closed and justice resulted from the treatment of a dying inmate.

You can read more about James Washington’s story at this link:



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