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epidemics_in_prisons

epidemics_in_prisons - EDITORIAL OBSERVER Treat the...

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June 22, 2004 EDITORIAL OBSERVER Treat the Epidemic Behind Bars Before It Hits the Streets By BRENT STAPLES he murder of 20-year-old Raul Tinajero at the Los Angeles County Jail in April focused national attention on the violence that dominates much of the American correctional system. Mr. Tinajero had testified for the prosecution at a murder trial and had been guaranteed special protection that never materialized. The inmate against whom he testified roamed the jail for hours on a forged pass, the authorities say, until he entered Mr. Tinajero's cell and strangled him in front of his cellmates. This marked the fifth murder of an inmate at the Los Angeles County Jail in seven months. Battered by public criticism, the jail opened its doors to reporters, who could see right away that violence was far from the only hazard associated with life behind bars. The Times's Charlie LeDuff reported that the jail commonly housed as many as six prisoners in a single cell, which meant two slept on floors wet with toilet seepage. A staph infection was raging through the cellblocks, and inmates crowded at the bars to show their lesions. These infections are especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, a category that includes many prisoners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited the Los Angeles County Jail for an outbreak of drug-resistant strains of staph, which are especially aggressive and difficult to treat.
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