Medical Care for Prisoners

Getting Needed Medical Care for a Prisoner
Sometimes prisoners do not receive the medical care that they need and that they are entitled to while they are incarcerated. Many of the letters and emails that we receive are either from prisoners or from prisoners’ families pertaining to specific medical questions. Unfortunately, we do not currently have the staff to address all of the questions that are raised, particularly when they relate to needed healthcare in a jurisdiction other than Rhode Island. If you have a medical question about either yourself or a family member who is in prison, we suggest the following steps:

 1. If you or your loved one has a doctor on the outside, ask if they can communicate directly to his correctional health care providers. In some cases, correctional facilities allow doctors to visit their patients when they need medical attention.

 2. You should try contacting the healthcare providers at your/your family member’s prison directly to bring a medical problem to their attention.

 3. If you cannot reach the healthcare providers, the medical director’s office will be able to provide the most specific assistance to your health concern.

 4. The Department of Corrections website for your state should have appropriate contact information for the medical director’s office. In order to assist you, we have compiled a list of websites for Departments of Corrections by state.

 5. Several states have legal services organizations that represent or otherwise help prisoners. These organizations will sometimes advocate for individual prisoners who are not receiving proper medical and mental health care and treatment. You should contact these organizations, listed here, to see if they can advise you concerning your case.

Please also see the ACLU National Prison Project’s “Know Your Rights: Medical, Dental, and Mental Health Care.