Last week the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a District Court ruling that would prevent 67-year-old inmate John Colwell from getting cataract surgery. The Ninth Circuit Circuit considered Colwell's condition serious and the denial of medical treatment as cruel and unusual punishment.
Colwell cataracts caused his right eye to go blind twelve years ago. He has since injured his hand doing prison work, and the injuries may have been caused by his impaired vision. If he ultimately gets the surgery, it may cost the prison more than $3,230.
Colwell is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole at the Southern Desert Correctional Center. Elderly inmates represent less than six percent of the prison population, but the cost of their medical care represents a significant portion of the prison's budget. In America, housing elderly inmates comes at a cost of $16 billion.
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