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A US prison inmate who had complained of stomach pain was scheduled for a visit to a general practitioner a week after the initial symptoms occurred. The general practitioner prescribed him medication for acidity, but his stomach pain continued. The inmate continued to complain about his stomach pain for another three weeks, but was told to give the medicine more time to cure him.
The prison staff finally scheduled another visit to the general practitioner who in turn scheduled the inmate for test scans a couple of weeks later. The scans showed that the inmate was suffering from stomach cancer.
Surgery was performed immediately to remove the tumor. Surgeons also had to remove a part of his stomach during surgery.
The inmate sued the prison, claiming deliberate cruel and unusual punishment because of the time that passed between his initial complaints and diagnosis.
- Do you think inmates should be granted the right to medical treatment? Why? If yes, what are the rights they should have? What are the arguments against granting such rights?
- Do inmates have a right to advanced treatment for medical ailments which can be a financial burden on society? Explain, giving reasons, whether or not the society should bear the heavy cost of treating those whom it has put in prison for anti-social activities.
- What is deliberate indifference toward a prisoner’s health? Explain with reference to a case. Did the officers show deliberate indifference towards this inmate’s health problem? Why do you think so?
- Would Estelle v. Gamble (1976) support the inmate’s case? Why? What are the points of similarity and difference in both cases?