America’s prison population is, like the general public, aging rapidly. The wide net cast by the incarceration explosion of the 1980s and 1990s means that the percentage of prisoners needing increased health care has risen dramatically as well. This is particularly true in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which has always had an older population than the national average, due to the profile of the offenders it prosecutes.
Basic Health Care in the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Every inmate entering the Federal Bureau of Prisons is given a general health screening which includes basic blood tests and a consultation (a psychology screening and a dental exam are also provided).
If the inmate is found to be in a generally healthy state, then further medical care is provided only upon request, with the exception of annual tuberculosis testing, which is mandatory. On occasion, an inmate may be called in for random HIV and other disease testing programs. Those deemed generally healthy are directed to use the sick call/triage program to access health care, as explained below.
Chronic Care in Federal Prison
Some inmates enter the Federal Bureau of Prisons with chronic health conditions, or develop them during their incarceration. For these inmates, they are assigned a “care level” commensurate with the care required. They will be seen regularly and monitored accordingly.