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The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism 1997-1998

Andrew A. Skolnick

Executive Director, Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health Science/Medical Journalist, National Association of Science Writers
Amherst, New York

Topic: Treatment of people with mental illnesses who are in jails and prisons and are treated by impaired physicians

Published Work:

Two Key Posts in Alabama Were Filled by Doctors with Checkered Histories
Correctional Medical Services filled two key jobs in the Alabama prison system with doctors who have troubled personal and professional histories.

Prisoner, Doctor Who Treated Him, Both Had Drug Arrests
Super, caught with five pounds of marijuana, received a six-year prison sentence in 1992 for his crime. Dr. White, a former specialist in treating drug and alcohol addiction, got two years' probation in 1990 for driving under the influence.

Prison Deaths Spotlight How Boards Handle Impaired, Disciplined Physicians
The deaths in recent years of several prison inmates under the care of physicians with records of criminal or professional misconduct has critics calling on medical licensing boards to be more vigilant in protecting patients from physicians who commit serious offenses.

Critics Denounce Staffing Jails and Prisons with Physicians Convicted of Misconduct
In an effort to provide health care in their burgeoning jails and prisons, some states are hiring physicians who have been convicted of crimes or have lost their medical license because of professional misconduct. Some states are even issuing medical licenses that restrict the disciplined physician's practice to prisoners. That policy is not just bad for the incarcerated, according to correctional health leaders and other critics, it is bad for correctional medicine and it's bad for society.

Physicians With Troubled Pasts Have Found Work Behind Bars
When Nancy Blumenthal was interviewed by the jail psychiatrist, she had no idea that he had spent time behind bars himself. Dr. Harvey Lothringer served four years for killing a college sophomore in the 1960s in a botched illegal abortion and then trying to hide his crime by cutting her up and flushing her down his toilet.

Only the Tip of the Iceberg?
The number of physicians who have been convicted of crimes or disciplined for serious misconduct who are now working in correctional health care is unknown. However, those brought to light by the preventable death of inmates are probably "only the tip of the iceberg," said psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, MD, executive director of the Stanley Foundation Research Programs, Bethesda, Md.

Alabama Teen Died in Isolation Seven Weeks After Sentence Began 

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