Chaining Paralyzed Prisoners

The Receiver in charge of California’s troubled prison system has identified 32 prisoners who would not pose any danger to society were they to be released. Ten of those are paralyzed either totally or partially. Given California’s budget shortfall of $26.6 billion several political factions have an incentive to work with the Receiver simply because of the cost savings of releasing these prisoners. Their health care cost would then shift to their families, not the state. In addition the cost of security in itself amounts to several millions. These inmates, several in hospitals, are chained to their beds and guarded 24×7 at taxpayers’ expenses. Pictures of ankles chained to beds have made it to newspapers and other media. The decision is now on Governor Brown’s desk. He can pardon these inmates, lessen their sentence or find some other way to release them.
The budget issue is real and is important, but there is another issue just as real and just as important, that of chaining a paralyzed person to a bed—as if their paralysis were not already a form of chain. Prisoners or not, this kind of treatment is unnecessary and inhumane. It reflects far more on our lack of compassion than on whatever their crimes may have been.