Friday, February 26, 2010

#71 Prison rules: medication (retro)

Prison Writeups: Medication

“It is against prison rules to sell, accumulate, give, misuse or hide medication”

This is one of the rules out of the NCDOC rulebook, and I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about this. This blog today is about prison medication, and how your loved one has to acknowledge the rules pertaining to it.

Now, it seems like a no-brainer right? The obvious thing here is that you don’t want your son or daughter, or boyfriend or whomever to get in trouble, so this rule seems self-explanatory. But let’s go through this with a finer comb and see.

According to the rule, it is wrongful to do five things with medication that is issued from the infirmary. But from experience, I have seen many inmates do one, some or all of those things…even I have done it myself.

“But why would you do that, you are just asking for trouble!”

Maybe, but the situation can sometimes force a person do bend, or even break the rules, if it helps them get through the day. We’re gonna need to talk about that for awhile for you to understand what I am saying.

What I hope to share with you in this particular blog is that even when a guy tries his best to adhere to the rules, there will always be times in prison where he may have to bend it to his advantage. One of the rules that can easily be bent is the one concerning medication, as you will see.

According to the rules, it is wrongful to sell medication that you received from the infirmary. You can also extend this to say that you cannot even sell medication that you buy from the inmate canteen, such as Tylenol or any such thing, since this is also bartering.

I knew a guy that was hooked on Benedryl, and was always taking it, and even buying or selling it. It seemed that every time I saw him in the evening, he had one of those pink pills. I remember once my cellmate told me he wasn’t feeling so well, and went to that guy to buy a Benedryl from him. Of course, this would constitute a violation of the rules.

But if you knew how common this was, it would almost be a joke. Many inmates sell or buy medication from one another. Yes, I know there is a drug problem in prison just like there is in society, but in many cases these guys are looking to either sell off excess medication given to them by the infirmary, (which is very rare) or looking to buy some from someone.

Before you jump the gun and say, “well that’s just wrong”, let me put a situation to you. What would you do right now if you were suffering from a headache? Most of you would go immediately to the desk drawer and grab a BC, or Tylenol, or Advil, or something. Well, what would you do if you had none?

You’d probably go to the store and get some. Well, what if you didn’t have a way to the store? Maybe you’d call somebody to see if they can bring you something for your headache. But what if you knew no one that could?

Then you’d just have to sit and endure it until it passes.

And every second that you do would be miserable.

Now, what if you were in prison, surrounded by negativity, stress, depression and guilt all day, every day, for 24 hours a day. Now that same headache, which was already miserable, becomes multiplied because you don’t have any venues of relief. NOW what do you do?

I shared this with you several times, so many of you already know, but I have been in those situations before…more than once. When you need medication, there are options, but those options are most times more costly than they are worth. If I had a headache that was just throbbing, I could fill out a sick card, and sometime in the next THREE days I will get called to the infirmary.

Or, I could fill out an emergency sick card and be seen within a few hours, but it would cost me $5 off my inmate account…FIVE DOLLARS for aspirin? Maybe one time I could do it, but I used to get headaches often since I was a kid, I just cannot see dropping five dollars every time I got a headache, that is not reasonable.

But what if I knew someone in a nearby cell or dorm (depending on the prison) that had some Ibuprophen? Many times you can find a guy that had some extra medication from a sick call, and you may be able to barter with them to give you some. Is this against the rules…absolutely. But is it necessary…absolutely.

The fallacy we have with prisons is that people think that any additional suffering that goes on in prison is actually part of the punishment, which is highly incorrect. No judge ever sentenced a person to prison with the addition that if anything bad happens to him or her, that is part of the punishment. If so, then a person who gets raped while in prison was just taking his part in the incarceration. No different from any other form of suffering. No prison has a right to imply that pain and suffering is actually a part of the incarceration. That folks, would be inhumane.

But the rules are in place for a reason, because for every rule, there are guys that abuse it with unrighteous intents. A guy that pays 50 cents for an Ibuprophen pill to take care of a headache is trying to help himself through a problem. A guy that buys Benedryl to just pop them and sleep is abusing the drug. There is a difference.

I do understand the intent of the rule, because I think the prisons didn’t want things to get out of hand, but I really do think that in order to keep some peace in the prison, there has to be some bending of the rules. I will say this, and not incriminate any officer; if a prison guard that is around inmates all day knows that a decent man in prison needs something for his headache, and knew he bartered another guy for some aspirin, I don’t think that officer would do anything against that inmate. Why? Because he understood that the guy did what he had to do for his health.

See, there are some sensible sides to this issue. And YES, there are officers who understand what inmates are going through. Not all are vindictive slavers looking to write up the next person that breathes against the prison rules.

So there are indeed times where rules like this can be bent, and not punished. Even though by the rule you cannot even give medication away, that is also loosely translated. If I bought some Tylenol and had a couple of packs, and a guy I knew needed some, I would either sell it to him, or just give it to him. If he offered to barter, then I would, but if I knew he had nothing, I would simply give it to him.

Sometimes inmates have to look out for other inmates.

Have I ever sold medication before? I think I may have, but it was only aspirin I had bought out of the canteen, but I very rarely kept enough to be a problem. For that reason, I was never in any trouble for accumulating medication. In many prisons you are allowed to have a certain amount, but no more. If I had 2 or 3 packs of Tylenol in my locker, that is fine, but if I had 50 packs, that could be a problem.

Have I ever given away medication. I am quite sure I have because you often have other guys that need some help. One of the most common is those who go to the dentist. It is a very sad thing when an inmate goes to the dentist, and they pull teeth, and give this guys the very minimum dosage, KNOWING he is going to have some serious pain. What do you expect these guys to do when they are in big pain? Write a grievance?

Many times these guys have to file for an emergency sick call just to get some more Ibuprophen. I was fortunate to never be in that situation. But there was one time I got sick with a very high temperature, and was put on some strange medication, taking like a handful of pills a day. It was almost like a handful of marbles, with the different colors and stuff. I actually took the meds for I think 3 days, but another guy that was getting some stuff was selling it to other inmates.

I could never see myself doing that, because I don’t want to be responsible for giving somebody a pill I did not know much about. Giving ibuprophen is one thing, because I know what that is, but anything else, I am not comfortable with that. Yet many guys do, because to them it is a hustle (you will need to see my blog on hustles).

At any rate, I hope that clears it up a little for you. There is still much that can be said on this subject of prison medication, but I hope you can understand that sometimes inmates have to do what they can to help themselves. I don’t regret paying for Ibuprophen or any Tylenol if I had a headache and needed help, and I don’t regret selling it to someone who needed it as well. Sometimes inmates have to look out for one another.

Give me a email at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com if you want me to discuss other issues, or ask me about how to support my blogs or buy my prison books.

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