Human Rights Promotion (5): When Human Rights Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth, Ctd.

Following up on a previous post, here’s one additional example of things human rights defenders normally reject but still feel forced to accept as the better one of two terrible options: in some cases, life in prison seems to be better than freedom.

Life goes on for inmates … They adapt to prison. They are able to acquire privileges through good behavior. They enjoy recreational opportunities, a social life, and family visits. They receive food, shelter, and medical care at state expense. By contrast, research on life after even relatively short stays in prison suggests that ex-inmates typically face extraordinary, long-term challenges to reintegration and a return to the level of well-being they enjoyed before prison. … [A] study [finds] that black men survive longer inside prison than outside it. (source, source, source)

None of this means that it’s good to keep people in prison – and yet, given our failure to guarantee human rights for minorities, ex-inmates and poor people, being in prison does have certain advantages. This should go some way to explaining this bizarre story:

Unemployed and without health insurance, [a] man in North Carolina has himself arrested in order to receive treatment. … It was not perhaps the most obvious way of getting a bad back, arthritis and a dodgy foot seen to. But if you’re unemployed in North Carolina with no health insurance, there is no obvious way.

So on 9 June James Verone left his Gastonia home, took a ride to a bank and carried out a robbery. Well, sort of.

What he did was hand the clerk a note that said: “This is a bank robbery, please only give me one dollar.” Then, as he later told the local NBC news station, he calmly sat in the corner of the bank having told the clerk: “I’ll be sitting right over there in the chair waiting for the police.” …

He told the paper he had lost his job after 17 years as a Coca-Cola delivery man, and with it his health insurance. He was in increasing pain from slipped discs, arthritic joints, a gammy foot and a growth on his chest.

Since being in the jail he has attained his goal: he has been seen by nurses and an appointment with a doctor is booked. (source)

It’s a sorry state of affairs that people want to be in prison because being in prison is better than their life outside.


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