Texas prisons deny dentures to prisoners without teeth. You need less than seven teeth, be underweight or having additional medical issues for approval.
Texas prisons are denying dentures to prisoners without teeth. This inhumane act is due to a prison policy. They categorize chewing as a non-medical necessity. Prisoners are forced to eat blended food like babies.
Texas Provides Only a Few Dentures to the Prisoners
It is so sad to see that only a small number of dentures are a being approved for prisoners. In 2016, according to the Houston Chronicle, medical providers in Texas prisons only approved 71 dentures for the inmates.
The prison population, at the time, was at least 149,000 prisoners. More than a decade ago, over a thousand dental prosthetics were approved.
In the past decade, California has given six times the number of dentures Texas has given. It is a crazy statistic. Texas has roughly 19,000 more prisoners compared to California.
According to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, in 2016, California approved at least 4800 dental prosthetics to the prisoners.
Toothless Prisoners Are Suffering
Many inmates without teeth in Texas are in dire need. Majority of those without teeth are:
- The elderly
- Inmates with below average dental care backgrounds
- Inmates with a drug use history
Many inmates in Texas are left with no option but to eat food with their remaining few teeth. Some have had their few remaining teeth pulled in order to receive dentures. It is painful for them not to receive the dentures.
According to Paul Devoe, a death row prisoner, they frequently complain about their dental conditions and problems:
- Sore mouth
- Cases of choking on food
- Bleeding gums
- Inability to eat
Strict Texas Policies on Denture Approval
Texas only provides dentures to prisoners who are underweight. Or to inmates with other medical complications. Inmates with less than seven teeth are recommended to undergo an assessment for dentures.
Since there are only a few dentures doled out every year, it is so hard for an inmate to get the dental prosthetics they need. Before you can get dentures, you need to have additional health issues.
According to Jeremy Desel, the spokesman of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, it is the ultimate medical decision.
The Future of the Toothless Prisoners
The prison system in Texas doesn’t have plans to change their policies any time soon. According to Desel, the current policies were reviewed as recent as April 2107. He says that there are no plans to review the policies again in the near future.
A retired law professor says the incarcerated will only see reforms through a class-action lawsuit. It is worrisome to see a lot of people don’t care about the plight of the incarcerated.