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OurView: Poor treatment of Texas inmates underscores need for major prison reform

Dentistry+in+prisons+has+gone+downhill+in+recent+years.
Dentistry in prisons has gone downhill in recent years.

Dentistry in prisons has gone downhill in recent years.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Dentistry in prisons has gone downhill in recent years.

Sierra Rozen and Lauren Sanchez

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Most everyone can agree that the United State’s prison systems are not the best, to say the least. Prison itself is not supposed to be a luxurious experience. Yet, the people incarcerated are expected to have some basic human rights, such as dental care.

It has been reported that multiple prisoners in Texas have been without proper dental care for years. This ranged from a lack of dental care, to multiple inmates being toothless and having to go without dentures.

One of the only reasons that the prisons deem legitimate for getting dentures is if the inmates end up becoming underweight from lack of nutrition, as most of them end up getting their food blended as a solution.

It was also reported that in 2016, medical providers for the prison only approved 71 sets of dentures for a population of 149,000. We’re no mathematicians, but this seems like an uneven ratio to us.

This isn’t even the worst part. Multiple inmates disclosed that they were falsely promised dentures in exchange for having their teeth removed. When they did receive dentures, they were often shoddily made and broke after short-term use.

Apparently the ability to chew isn’t a necessity, but then again, the prison system has never had its’ inmates best interests at heart. Especially in Texas.

Another injustice involves something almost essential to living in Texas: air conditioning. Many Texas prisons have reportedly only just began installing air conditioning, even though there have been 10 reported deaths due to heat related causes since 2011.

In fact, only this year has this become part of the new heat safety policy. The only reason these new steps are being taken is because of a seven million dollar lawsuit against The Darrington Unit, one of the oldest prisons in Texas located in Brazoria county.

Thought that was it? Of course not.

Dominique Mitchell, a former supervisor of a teen inmate program at the Clemens Unit in Brazoria county (another adult prison in Brazoria county), was fired from her job, along with the prison warden and a senior director when a story broke about an adult janitor sexually assaulting a teenage inmate in 2017.

Even though they claimed it was an isolated incident, things like this are still going to happen if kids as young as 14 can be tried as adults according to the severity of their crime.

Now she is speaking out against the prison system, in an attempt to change the cover-up culture that so often appears in cases like this. Mitchell is one of few people who was willing to come forward about these atrocities, as many of her co-workers said that she wasn’t loyal for doing so.

Why are these changes only being made now? Why has it taken us so long to actually give a crap about prisoners? We’re sure that the internet has something to do with it, after all, most of these stories become widespread because of the internet. But even then, do we really care?

If we really do care about these prisoners, we should be trying to create change ourselves. Call your elected officials; advocate for change in the prison system. Though they’re prisoners, they’re still human beings and deserve to be treated as such. Is that such a controversial opinion?

About the Writers
Sierra Rozen, Viewpoints Editor

I am Sierra Rozen – Communication major, Journalism minor and Viewpoints Editor for Hilltop Views. This is my sophomore year at St. Edward’s University. I enjoy reporting on social justice issues and advocating for basic human rights. In my free time, I love downing tea, exploring downtown Austin, and contemplating what life is all about.

Lauren Sanchez, Viewpoints Section Editor

I am Lauren Sanchez — a Communication major with a focus in Journalism at St. Edward’s University. I’m currently the Viewpoints Section Editor for Hilltop Views, and I have been serving in this position for the past 2 years.

I’m a very opinionated person, hence my position in the newspaper. Aside from writing opinion articles, I enjoy writing movie and video game reviews.

Class of 2019!

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OurView: Poor treatment of Texas inmates underscores need for major prison reform