I was talking to the lady at the post office the other day about where my letters — so many of them — were going, that is, to the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord. Turns out that she has a relative in prison. She mentioned that his getting medical help is almost impossible.
I asked Father MacRae (About) about his own experiences in this regard, and he confirmed that report, saying that he only received a certain medicine for his epilepsy on an extremely irregular basis. For this reason, he told me that he stopped taking the medicine altogether. Why? Read this:
Does missing medications cause seizures? Yes, it can. Missing doses of seizure medicine is almost certainly the most common cause of so-called breakthrough seizures in people whose seizures are usually well controlled. It also can lead to prolonged seizures called status epilepticus, usually if medication is abruptly stopped altogether. Status epilepticus is life-threatening and requires emergency medical treatment.
Get that? Life threatening… “Emergency medical treatment…” in prison?
Father also has an ear infection. The doctor prescribed medicine. It’s now going on — what? — four weeks, and he still doesn’t have the medicine. Think about that for a moment. If you’ve ever had an ear infection, you know what this can mean. If you don’t know, google it. I dare you.
If I were to be in Father MacRae’s place, I would long have been dead. It would only take a few days of medication mismanagement and I’d be dead. Just like that. Prison for any reason would be a death sentence. And not only because of that. I’m deadly allergic to pepper spray. The kind used in prisons — even if used somewhere in the same cell-block — would take about 8 minutes to kill me off. Great! Also, if I was ever said to be “uncooperative”, straped into one of those new-fangled chain chairs in which prisoners keep dying of asphixiation, I think it would take very little time for me to die because of physiological difficulties I have with my throat. So, death in three different ways. Hey! Maybe all three at the same time!
Some of those reading this blog are laity and don’t understand what the big deal about falsely accused priests is all about. I mean, who cares that priests can be falsely accused by anyone at any time for any reason or none at all? A recent comment on Father Z’s blog from “Cincinnati Priest” says it all:
Since many of the lay faithful don’t pay much attention to this issue (understandably, it doesn’t affect many of them directly), I like to put this in perspective by making an analogy, and show why this is such a grave injustice:
Imagine that those of you who are parents could be accused (anonymously, without the right to face your accuser) of abusive parenting, Further imagine that the only standard your anonymous accuser needed was that the accusation was “credible” (not patently false on its face). Further imagine that, while this was being investigated, your children were taken away from you for an indefinite period of time that could drag on for years and years, at the whim of authorities who didn’t even know you. Further imagine that your name was in the newspapers for months on end as an (accused) abusive parent, planting the idea in everyone’s head that in fact you *are* an abusive parent. Further imagine that, if the accusation proved false, you had essentially no recourse against the false accuser (whose name you still would not know) and that, every one of your friends and neighbors knew that you had been accused of abusive parenting, and that you were expected to return to family life as if nothing had happened.
Not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. Obviously, there would be great public outrage if the courts did this to *any* parent, let alone made it a systemic part of their process.
Get it now? I, for one, am waiting for the chancery officials of the Manchester diocese to check in on Father MacRae, you know, to check how he is, if he needs anything, if his health is O.K., things like that. Anyone…???
I would ask those who insist that all accused priests must necessarily be guilty regardless of the facts of any case be cognisant of conditions in prison besides those mentioned above. It’s getting on to summertime now. While you use your air-conditioners, remember the sweltering heat in overcrowded prisons with almost no ventilation. When you use the toilet, remember that an entire cell block, two floors, with bunk-beds also filling any free space in corridors and open spaces… all the inhabitants use only one toilet, which is constantly being used, non-stop… Are you so sure that facts of cases are totally, totally irrelevant? The Lord notices e v e r y t h i n g .