August 8, 2011

Alberta Darling's deliberate indifference to suffering

On Friday the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a 2010 decision of Federal District Court Judge Charles Clevert of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, which found Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

The statute banned State funding of therapy for Wisconsin prisoners medically diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder. One of the cosponsors of the original bill banning the treatment (2005 Wisconsin Act 105) was Alberta Darling, the conservative Republican Wisconsin State Senator who faces a highly contentious recall election tomorrow.

Undecided voters — reportedly there are a few out there — take heed.

Darling was joined in this Act of compassionate conservatism by her counterparts Luther Olsen and Robert Cowles, two other Senators who tomorrow face similar fates. Another was our friend Scott Fitzgerald.

The unanimous Seventh Circuit panel was likewise unequivocal.

In affirming the district court, the three panelists wrote that Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials "acted with deliberate indifference in that [the officials] knew of the serious medical need but refused to provide hormone therapy because of Act 105" despite the inmates' "suffer[ing]," which is known to include "severe physical effects such as muscle wasting, high blood pressure, and neurological complications."

At the time Alberta Darling and her conservative Republican colleagues cosponsored the bill, they knew of exactly two inmates among a population of thousands, upon whom the Wisconsin DOC had expended "approximately $2,300 on hormone therapy." Indeed, at trial before the district court in Milwaukee, the DOC testified that "the cost of providing hormone therapy is between $300 and $1,000 per inmate per year."

Meanwhile Scott Fitzgerald can blow twenty-seven grand in a few days.

Additionally, wrote the Seventh Circuit, "[t]he district court concluded that DOC might actually incur greater costs by refusing to provide hormones, since inmates with [Gender Identity Disorder] might require other expensive treatments or enhanced monitoring by prison security."

Thus does this case put the lie not only to so-called compassionate conservatism — "deliberate indifference to serious medical need" — it moreover blows from the water Darling et al's alleged commitment to "fiscal conservatism." Then there are the costs of the appeal, obviously, and another potential appeal to the Seventh Circuit sitting en banc.

Behold your Kulturkampf, citizens, waged by conservative Republicans like Alberta Darling and the other original sponsors of the bill, who also included the usual suspects like Glenn Grothman and several other of our self-advertised Soldiers of Christ. As has been mentioned before at this space, gender — like sexual orientation, in fact — exists on a continuum.

It's a function of the "intelligent design" the culture warriors claim their Creator has imposed on "his" Creation, which Creator's gender and orientation apparently being less indeterminate than these patients'.

The supernatural is more familiar to them than the observable reality.

Here is the Seventh Circuit's decision: Fields v. Smith. Read the whole thing; it's only 19 pages. And pay particular attention to the medical testimony. Personally I don't care whether or not these folks are prison inmates, which is most evidently the status that raised the intuitive ire of our brave Republican lawgivers. That Alberta Darling and her pals in the Wisconsin legislature literally forced the denial of medical treatment to legitimate sufferers is a disgrace, but especially because of this here:
The [DOC] doctors testified that they could think of no other state law or policy, besides Act 105, that prohibits prison doctors from providing inmates with medically necessary treatment.
Only in Wisconsin, and thanks to State Senator Alberta Darling.

You can help return her to her secluded River Hills mansion tomorrow.


Mike said...

Soldiers of Christ my ass, the Society of Jesus should sue.

It would be so sweet defeating Darling. The Democratic electorate is fired up, that I can tell you.

illusory tenant said...

Overwhemingly fired up in Shorewood and the North Shore, let's hope.

paulb said...

Maybe Paul Ryan and his banker/lobbyist buddies would be willing to forgo a meal out, and a few bottles of wine, and cover the inmates’ expenses for the year.

illusory tenant said...

Truly, the effort to repress such a negligible population is sickening itself.

Anonymous said...

As the mother of a transgender teenager (who, I hope, is unlikely to end up in Wisconsin's prison system), I'm very interested in Darling's lack of empathy for the transgender inmates. I can't say it surprised me, though; the woman thinks that a $250,000 annual income is middle class. I hope the Junior League (or whatever toney organizations she belongs to) is ashamed of her.