Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Medical neglect of prisoners is a crime

Yesterday I blogged about Serco's medical neglect of a prisoner of a prisoner under their care, and pointed out that it almost certainly constituted cruel and degrading treatment in terms of the Bill of Rights Act and Convention Against Torture. I also highlighted that this isn't an isolated incident: Corrections has very poor standards for supplying medical care to prisoners, and in one case left a man to literally rot in his own excrement. If you've been paying attention to the news today, that phrase should ring alarm bells, because there are people currently being prosecuted for manslaughter for doing that to an elderly relative. And poking around shows that Serco's behaviour is likely criminal.

Section 151 of the Crimes Act 1961 criminalises failing to provide the necessities of life where it leads to death. Section 195 is a parallel clause which imposes a peanlty of 10 years imprisonment for

intentionally engage[ing] in conduct that, or omits to discharge or perform any legal duty the omission of which, is likely to cause suffering, injury, adverse effects to health, or any mental disorder or disability to a child or vulnerable adult (the victim) if the conduct engaged in, or the omission to perform the legal duty, is a major departure from the standard of care to be expected of a reasonable person.

[Emphasis added]

Section 195A covers staff who know about such neglect and don't do anything to stop it.

What's a "vulnerable adult"? "A person unable, by reason of detention... to withdraw himself or herself from the care or charge of another person." Prisoners are "vulnerable adults". Which means that the routine denial of medical care by Corrections and its contractors is a criminal act, and should see those responsible - the managers who deny medical care, and the ordinary guards who know of this neglect and don't do anything to stop it. So why aren't they being prosecuted? Is the government really saying that this is the standard of care a reasonable person would expect be shown to a prisoner?