Not Equivalent, But Better: Human Rights and Health Care Behind Bars in the Time of COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the lack of resources and oversight that hinders medical care for incarcerated people in the United States. The US Supreme Court has held that “deliberate indifference” to “serious medical needs” violates the Constitution. But this legal standard does not assure the consistent provision of health care services. This leads the United States to fall behind European nations that define universal standards of care grounded in principles of human rights and the ideal of equivalence that incarcerated and non-incarcerated people are entitled to the same health care. Drawing on a normative analysis and empirical research, this talk describes an incremental strategy based on expanding Medicaid into correctional facilities and improving comprehensive oversight that would move closer to the normative ideal without resolving many of the thorny problems of correctional health care.