Prisoners can be a real pain in the butt. They often have far too much free time.
One of the many things they do to pass the time is file lawsuits. We’re not talking criminal appeals here. They do that too, of course, but they also file lawsuits about everything from the soy content of food to their untreated golf ball sized hemorrhoids.
Yes, golf ball sized.
Anthony Wheeler, 53, is serving a 27-year sentence for a series of 7 robberies. As with all inmates, he has to rely on the prison system for his healthcare. Unfortunately, there seems to be a disagreement as to the proper treatment of his condition, reports the Courthouse News Service.
While one doctor has called for surgery to cure his uncomfortable condition, other physicians, and the prison’s healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources, feel that medicine is treating the condition adequately.
After being denied for surgery multiple times, and filing grievances with the prison system, Wheeler hit the courts. He filed a complaint and a request for a court order to force the hospital to provide surgery. He heard nothing. He filed again, a few months later. He still heard nothing. Finally, he filed a third time. No luck. The court essentially told him to stop being a pain in the, well, butt, and denied the motion because they still hadn’t had a chance to rule on his previous filings.
Because prisoners have so much time on their hands, a special set of rules was created to process their cases. Some courts see dozens, or even hundreds, of prisoner complaints per month. The courts are supposed to screen these cases to weed out frivolous complaints within a “reasonable time.”
Wheeler’s first complaint was filed in September 2011. His others were filed in January of this year. Today, the Seventh Circuit ruled that the long wait, about 11 months and counting, was not a “reasonable time” to wait for an approval or denial of a request for a court order to treat a medical condition.
Does this mean he gets the surgery? Not exactly. The ruling today only means that the lower court has to make it’s ruling on the request for a court order some time within the next few days.
At a certain point, you have to wonder when this will cross over into cruel and unusual punishment territory, if it already hasn’t. According to his supporting documentation, he has been battling hemorrhoids since 2010. Though Wheeler’s condition isn’t getting any worse, one would imagine that he is suffering.