Resources – Preparing for Prison – Prison Healthcare

Prison Healthcare

Inmates have a right to basic medical care and treatment in prison.  Upon arrival, inmates receive an initial screening, and later a physical. If an inmate has medical records from a doctor prior to incarceration, those records should be mailed or faxed to prison medical staff.

If an inmate was taking a particular medicine prior to incarceration, there is no guarantee that the inmate will be approved to take that same medicine while incarcerated in federal custody.  Sometimes an inmate will get a generic replacement as required by the Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) national drug formulary.

In some cases, inmates may get no medication at all, even if they were prescribed medication prior to incarceration. If the prison healthcare doctor believes that it is unnecessary for an inmate to take a particular medication, the doctor will not prescribe it. Having a well-documented medical history will aid in helping the prison doctor assess the inmate’s medical needs. You can bring your medical records in with you if you are self-surrending to federal prison.

In an inmate gets sick, then the inmate can sign up for “Sick Call.” This is done by the inmate visiting the medical department in the morning and telling medical staff what the problem is.  There is usually a $2 cost for scheduling an appointment.

Inmates are responsible for their own over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrup and pain relievers. These can be purchased from the commissary.

Prison healthcare, even in the federal prison system, is often plagued with care quality issues. Take care of yourself as best as possible by eating properly and exercise while you are incarcerated.

Psychology Evaluations in Prison

Shortly after your arrival, you will be screened by psychology services. If you have psychological issues that require medication, psychology staff will make arrangements for you to be seen by a psychiatrist or the head doctor at the prison for treatment.

The Psychology Department periodically provides programs for inmates dealing with anger management issues, mental health issues, and the like.  Some of these programs are one-on-one sessions between the inmate and a psychology staff member. Others are in a group setting.


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