Monday, 5 April 2010

A Small Victory in Wisconsin

As I've blogged about before, the Wisconsin Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act is one of the more odious pieces of legislation. The prison rules prevent prisoners from paying for their own treatment, and any medication that they obtain has to be through the prison system, otherwise it's confiscated as contraband.

This means that trans prisoners on prescribed hormonal medication have it discontinued. With the predictable results.

From the Washington Post:
Some of the plaintiffs had been on hormones for years before the law was passed. They included Andrea Fields, who had taken hormones since 1996. Before the law was blocked, the inmate's hormone dosage was cut in half, which led to nausea, weakness, loss of appetite and hair growth, according to court records.

The prison medics argued that they should be allowed to prescribe hormones in appropriate cases. They didn't have the budget to deal with the additional costs of the suicides, the suicide attempts, the anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, the sedatives and continuous suicide-watch expenses. They saw the patients health, both physical and mental deteriorate too. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Earlier, Kevin Kallas, a psychiatrist and mental health director for Wisconsin's prisons, testified he opposed the law banning hormones.

Besides in federal prisons, hormones are given in all of the Midwestern states surveyed by the Department of Corrections, he said. Kallas called hormones a "medically necessary" treatment in some, though not all, cases.

Kallas said patients who are taken off hormones typically need counseling, drugs and hospital stays instead, suicide treatments that are more expensive than the hormones, which cost $675 to $1,600 a year. Kallas said he did not know of any other medical treatment that the state Legislature has banned in prisons.

Now comes a Federal Court Order recognising the injustice.
After careful consideration, the court concludes that the defendants’ application of Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) to these plaintiffs constitutes deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment inasmuch as enforcement of the statute results in the denial of hormone therapy without regard for the individual medical needs of inmates and the medical judgment of their health care providers.

The court further finds that Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) is unconstitutional on its face under the Eighth Amendment because it bans the use of any Wisconsin State resources or federal funds passing through the government to provide hormone therapy and, thereby, requires the withdrawal of any such ongoing hormone therapy for inmates in DOC facilities without regard for the medical need for that treatment.

The court further finds that Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) prevents DOC medical personnel from evaluating inmates for treatment because such evaluation would be futile in light of the statute’s ban on such hormone therapy. Furthermore, the application of Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) to the plaintiffs violates the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to equal protection because there is no rational basis for treating the plaintiffs differently than similarly situated inmates.

The court further finds there is no rational basis for Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) and that the statute is invalid on its face, as it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Back to the WaPo again:
Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, one of the measure's sponsors, called the ruling absurd.

"This is another prime example of a liberal judge, far removed from the mainstream, overturning the will of the people," he said in a statement.

Van Hollen spokesman Bill Cosh said lawyers were reviewing the decision and considering an appeal.

If the ruling stands, taxpayers will likely be required to pay the inmates' legal fees, which Dupuis called substantial.
The question is, since the cost of giving Hormone Replacement Therapy is far, far less than the costs of dealing with the consequent health problems ... how much extra is the Wisconsin Taxpayer willing to pay just so Trans inmates suffer and die?

No comments: