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Inside America's Prisons

August 2004

LE Magazine August 2004
Inside America's Prisons

Health Freedom Activists Try to Help
When news spread that Jay was sentenced to 13 years in jail for FDA violations that had harmed no one, the health freedom community was outraged. Jay was denied the basic right to have an attorney represent him, and then was sentenced to 10 years beyond the maximum sentence the judge had told him he would face prior to trial. Federal rules mandate that defendants be told their maximum prison sentence exposure in order to determine whether a guilty plea is appropriate.

While Jay had nothing to fight with during his trial, donations poured in after his conviction. An appeal was filed seeking to overturn the 10 additional years the judge had arbitrarily and unjustly imposed on him. Despite the best efforts of one of the nation’s leading criminal defense firms, the appeal was denied repeatedly.

Jay made it clear to the judge that he was a political dissident and did not recognize the FDA’s authority over him. Jay had become the embodiment of a “political prisoner.” As is the case in all police-state countries, this meant he would be sent to the harshest jails the Bureau of Prisons could find. There was no “Club Fed” for Jay. He was sent to filthy county jails and then to one of the worst jails (in Belle Glade, FL), where third-world-like squalor breeds infectious diseases among prisoners. Jay contracted traumatic injuries at the hands of guards and infectious diseases that almost killed him. Medical treatment was repeatedly denied.

When the government identifies a political dissident, the punishment often greatly exceeds that of a common street criminal. After all, this person dares challenge the authority of the government itself. An example is Saddam Hussein, who jailed those who committed street crimes but summarily executed those suspected of questioning his absolute authority. The same was true of Adolph Hitler’s death camps. Eleven million people were murdered in the Nazi death camps. Six million of those were Jews, with the remainder consisting of unpopular ethnic groups, homosexuals, those with physical or mental disabilities, and political dissidents.

Hitler and Hussein routinely murdered men like Jay Kimball. As you will read in the accompanying article, the US government is trying to do the same by denying him and others basic medical care.

Jay’s entire case, including the original legal documents, can be accessed at

The Costs of Unnecessary Incarceration
The federal government has become obsessed with inflicting harsh punishment. The news media feeds this frenzy by sadistically reporting on high-profile white-collar trials. What no one looks at is the high cost to taxpayers of locking up people up who do not pose a danger to society.

The current average annual cost of incarcerating just one prisoner is about $30,000.5 By some people’s standards, half of the 2 million people jailed today are political prisoners who either do not belong in prison or at least should not be serving lengthy sentences. Multiply 1 million political prisoners by $30,000 and you come up with $30 billion in taxes every single year. And that figure does not include the high costs of arresting and prosecuting these individuals.

These numbers pale in comparison to what taxpayers will soon face. Middle-aged and older people increasingly are sentenced to long prison terms. The health care expenses to be paid by the government will become astronomical as these prisoners age and contract the diseases of aging at an accelerated pace because of the dilapidated conditions of American prisons.6,7

The most severe economic consequence is the loss of income tax revenue that occurs as a result of taxpaying citizens being put behind bars. Taxpayers who are not incarcerated are going to have to pay more because the government is increasingly locking up those who used to pay a lot of taxes. In some cases, the government has to take care of the economic needs (welfare) of family members who used to be supported by the political prisoner. The government also forgets about private creditors of the political prisoner, who have to foreclose on homes, repossess automobiles, and write off credit card debt because the political prisoner is no longer able to make monthly payments.

No one talks about the squandered tax dollars caused by the government incarcerating as many Americans as it can. The federal government does this even though it is running a $500 billion budget deficit and faces an impending economic catastrophe as a result of Social Security obligations it cannot possibly pay.8-11

No Equal Justice
The following five words are inscribed on the architrave that towers over the entrance of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC :“Equal Justice Under the Law”

Of all the phrases that could have been chosen, providing “equal justice” was deemed the most important role of the Supreme Court. When it comes to incarceration, however, the courts have perverted “equal justice” into meaning that everyone receives equal punishment. The problem is that individual circumstances are so different, applying equal punishment results in horrendously unequal situations.

For instance, some people make enormous personal sacrifices to achieve a career, a home, a business, a comfortable retirement, etc. Others float through life never giving a thought to any personal responsibility.

For those who build a life for themselves, a prison sentence of any substantial length often results in them losing everything. For the irresponsible person, floating in and out of jail is just a routine, and some of them do not consider it a significant imposition.

An example of a person with no personal responsibility is a roofer who can find work with any company on a sunny day. This individual sleeps on whatever floor a fellow worker provides or in the company truck if necessary. He takes his cash pay each Friday, spends the money on drugs or alcohol, and is broke before the weekend is over.

Because of his drug habit, basic necessities like food and housing are luxuries. This roofer made no sacrifices to get anywhere in life, pays no taxes, and has no credit to even generate any financial obligations. Welfare takes care of his illegitimate children. A two-day or two-year jail term means relatively little to the roofer, as he has no bills to pay, hates his job, has no responsibilities, and can get drugs in jail anyway (and free food). The roofer has no problem sleeping in an uncomfortable cot, using filthy toilet facilities, or having no decent climate control or little in the way of medical or dental care, since he never had these to begin with. If his teeth rot out, they would have done so in or out of prison, since he never went to the dentist. Being around lower-class criminals is not a problem either, since those are the people with whom the roofer works. When let out of jail, the roofer just calls a roofing company and lets them know he is available on the next sunny day to work. (This story about the roofer is true.)

Go to the opposite extreme of an attorney who made enormous sacrifices to go through seven years of college and law school, then worked 100-hour weeks to build a successful career. If convicted of the same victimless crime as the roofer and then jailed for two years, the lawyer loses his law license, his practice, his home, his car, his savings and credit, and everything for which he may have spent his entire life sacrificing. The squalid prison conditions and lack of decent medical and dental care result in the lawyer suffering brutally, while for the roofer, a two-year stint is just a minor inconvenience.

The judicial system arrogantly ignores personal circumstances when sentencing political prisoners.

The result is incredible differences in the magnitude of punishment each person suffers. This is blatantly unconstitutional, but no politician even raises a concern about it. The public, after all, thinks everyone should suffer equally. The sad fact is that there is such a disparity between the examples of the roofer and the lawyer that no one could possibly say that they would receive “equal” punishment if jailed for two years.

There are creative solutions that could help alleviate the unequal severity of punishment the government inflicts on its citizens, but the purpose of this article is to provide an inside look at American prisons. Since this is a health publication, a lot of focus will be on the lack of medical care that clearly represents cruel and unusual punishment—something the US Constitution expressly forbids.