On April 10, 2020, The Guardian made a news report about an uprising at the Lansing correctional facility in Kansas. According to the article, prisoners raided the facility, attacking the officers, setting small fires, and breaking windows. The reason for the rebellion was the concern about coronavirus as the number of infections rapidly increases in prisons. The article states that “the Lansing corrections department recently reported more than a dozen staff and 12 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility” (Evelyn, 2020, para. 3). Moreover, other jails faced the same issue, for example, in the Rikers Island facility, where correctional officers went as far as to pepper-spray eight people who asked for medical assistance (Evelyn, 2020, para. 17). Prisoners are worried that there are not enough supplies and qualified medical staff to prevent the spread of the virus among inmates. For this reason, many participated in the uprising, while also posting handmade signs pleading for help. Moreover, there has been a demand to release non-violent offenders and those who have not undergone trial yet. Such an event raises an ethical question of providing healthcare for convicted.
First of all, it is important to note that issues of ethics are delicate, especially in criminal justice. Correctional facilities are significant when it comes to rehabilitating perpetrators and ensuring that they are ready to come back to society. However, prisons are often overcrowded, and the amount of sanitation supplies is insufficient to guarantee safety from infectious diseases. This fact is confirmed by the article where the reporter states that “many facilities have reported a lack of proper protective equipment amid the outbreak” (Evelyn, 2020, para. 7). The rapid spread of COVID-19 can potentially affect not only inmates but the staff as well. Such situations present a difficult challenge for medical staff of correctional facilities since ethically, they are obligated to provide healthcare for every patient, regardless of the circumstances.
Moreover, the request to release some offenders may seem unacceptable to their victims even though it may seem like an adequate measure to stop the virus from spreading. The victims may feel like perpetrators did not yet serve the right punishment for their crimes, so they must stay in the facility. For this reason, the decision to release some prisoners may cause discontent among the general public.
Such a delicate issue requires further research in order to work out ethical solutions. It is vital that the study coincides with the best interests of patients regardless of their crimes. First of all, new models of implementing adequate healthcare in correctional facilities should be thoroughly investigated, as well as their cost-effectiveness. In addition, the healthcare community should discuss this problem with correctional officers and policymakers in order to get their support in applying those models. It is evident that the issue of providing proper training for medical staff should also be studied.
Fortunately, even though the lack of appropriate treatment in prisons caused the spread of the disease, there are several solutions that can be implemented. For instance, Fiscella et al. (2017) suggest “incorporating the highest standards of community healthcare into the correctional setting” (p. 384). Such standards include more funding in prison healthcare and new policies regarding the suspension of Medicaid for inmates. The researchers believe that these solutions can reduce the healthcare crisis in such facilities and boost community health, which is especially crucial during the pandemic.
- Evelyn, K. (2020). Prison Uprising Put Down as US Inmates Demand Protection from Coronavirus. The Guardian. Web.
- Fiscella, K., Beletsky, L., & Wakeman, S. E. (2017). The inmate exception and reform of correctional health care. American journal of public health, 107(3), 384.
The Vietnam War And The United States Involvement
Shortly after World War II ended, the United States of America was involved in a divisive conflict, the Vietnam War, which lasted for two decades. Americans fought alongside the South Vietnamese army against the communist North Vietnam government and its allies in the South, the Viet Cong. The Southern army fought to retain a Vietnam that was aligned closely to the West while the Northern Vietnam government aimed at unifying the country under a single communist regime modeled after China and the Soviet Union (Wiest and Young 00:00:51-00:10:56). The Viet Cong, an unrelenting adversary comprised of guerilla forces and regular army units used the country’s geography such as the southwestern Mekong River Delta to their advantage while employing other war tactics. On the other hand, Americans alongside the Southern Vietnamese army experienced operational difficulties presented by the terrain.
In the Mekong delta, the river splits into numerous distributaries. The area was highly populated with most of its occupants practicing crop production, mainly rice farming as water was readily available. Consequently, the North Vietnamese army relentlessly invaded the rich lands forcefully acquiring farm produce. By 1966, the Viet Cong was successfully prosecuting in over one thousand small scale assaults on segregated villages and governmental stations in the Mekong Delta. Attempts by the South Vietnamese armies to protect their terrain were futile as the troops were scattered over a large area (Wiest and Young 00:12:00-00:16:30). Additionally, poor communications and road infrastructure made movement difficult for the Southern troops. However, by 1967, the US Mobile Riverine Force organization had been formed by the Americans with the aim of seizing the advantage from the Viet Cong, Southern allies of the Northern Vietnamese army.
The riverine forces comprised an infantry army and a navy unit called Task Force-117. The navy component incorporated two river assault troops each equipped with landing crafts and boats. Both troops, the navy and the infantry were to work collectively, employing all skills to acquire an advantage against the Viet Cong. Ground troops required additional support from the navy team, which took advantage of the waterways during the war (Wiest and Young 00:17:00-00:19:50). Before this, the Americans had only used the Riverine forces to enable easy crossings over water bodies. On the other hand, to move, restock, and resupply their troops, the Viet Cong greatly depended on sampans among other minor watercraft. Their vast knowledge of the waterways eased their movement. The Viet Cong had managed to remain firmly grounded in the Mekong Delta given that the presence of Southern armies was scarcely felt in the area.
The Mobile Riverine force brought with it a new strategy that involved a floating base with multiple ships able to station a great number of troops attributable to the ability to easily move on short notice. Moreover, the base provided a platform to launch both airborne and amphibious assaults on the enemy. Additionally, a permanent base was set on land, at Dong Tam. Setting up the facility required reclamation of about 600 acres of the land that was previously meant for rice paddies (Wiest and Young 00:20:00-00:22:20). To aid in the assaults that would emanate from the river, a second unit was trained on navy skills such as battle drills, quick boarding, and debarking from ships. While the training continued, American navy crafts aided the South Vietnamese army in managing traffic in the operational areas of the river.
In 1967, 11 umbrella operations with the code name Coronado I-XI were launched by the Mobile Riverine Force in the Mekong Delta. This was later followed by a sequence of similar operations and assaults. The first assault caught the Viet Cong by surprise as they did not expect that the Southern Vietnamese armies had acquired the necessary water body navigation skills and vessels (Wiest and Young 00:23:00-00:25:40). In the beginning, the riverine forces would use the element of surprise and attack at dawn along the riverbanks using heavy artillery and gunfire from the navy. These attacks would then be reinforced by air assaults such as helicopter gunships. Additionally, Southern Vietnamese armies would then arrive by ground to block escape for the enemy and join in the assault. Numerous attacks from land, air, and water facilitated the removal of the Viet Cong from the Mekong Delta, an area of which they had firm control.
The Viet Cong had underestimated the Southern Vietnam army along with their allies, the Americans. They were less conscious of defending the banks and the river. Continually for half a year, the riverine forces continued to launch assaults while gaining complete dominance over areas where the Viet Cong had previously controlled. Prior to the launch of the Coronado I-XI operation by the riverine forces, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army had embarked on an organized sequence of attacks, the Tet Offensive. Through the Tet, Viet Cong units were able to attack and overrun almost every major city in the delta (Wiest and Young 00:26:00-01:12:40). Combined land, air, and water operations gave the Americans victory in the warfare. The floating base and mobility vessels later enabled the riverine forces to maintain routine operations through rotation of units, therefore, avoiding exhaustion and related hazards. The success of the Americans can also be attributed to the ability of the Mobile Riverine Forces to move large armies through air, ground, and water to the battlegrounds swiftly, an advantage which the Viet Cong lacked.
Over time, the Vietnam War remains significant in American history. Understanding Why America was involved, how the events took place, and the outcome of the war creates a public perception that impacts foreign policies and the American national identity. Whether America’s involvement in the war was a noble intervention against a communist aggressor, an act of imperialism to suppress the freedom of a nation, or a terrible involvement in a state’s conflict is still debatable. Notably, American leaders have over time argued that the use of military force in the Vietnam War was paramount in defending the sovereign state of South Vietnam. This is because the North Vietnamese army along with its allies, the Viet Cong, were relentlessly attacking the Southern armies nearly overpowering them and introducing communist rule. Though multiple lives were lost on both ends, the Americans and Vietnamese, South Vietnam eventually retained the victory.
Interestingly, given the time which the war took, from the the1950s to the 1970s, Americans were innovative in the way they employed different combat tactics. For instance, understanding the geographical terrain and overcoming the mobility challenges it posed was paramount in enabling them to overcome the Viet Cong. They devised ways of moving heavy artillery and troops through the Mekong River to the battle areas by use of watercraft. A floating base was an added advantage as the navy team was always ready, prepared to launch an assault at a given time. Additionally, preparing the riverine force to specifically go to war with the Viet Cong took them by surprise as they underestimated South Vietnam. The Americans also used the element of surprise while launching attacks in the Viet Cong territory by employing joint task forces. The infantry on the ground worked in conjunction with the navy and the air forces to launch multiple attacks on the Viet Cong. Training a second brigade division to join the riverine forces increased the manpower to face the adversary.
Wiest, Andrew, and John Young. “The Vietnam War.” C-SPAN, uploaded by American History TV, 2016, Web.
Opioids Abuse And Public Policy Change
Opioids are a form of drug often used medically to manage moderate to severe pain in patients. It can also be used to treat diarrhea and coughing. According to Spehr et al. (2017), when using this drug for medical purposes, one has to follow strict guidelines from the doctor. One of the major effects of opioids is that they make their users feel relaxed, which has made it one of the most abused drugs. A report by Carmichael et al. (2016) indicates that about 2 million Americans use it for non-medical purposes, and more than 90 people die daily because of it. The criminal justice system, through the Drug Enforcement Administration and other government agencies, has been keen on fighting the abuse of this drug within the country. The focus of this paper is to analyze the nature of this problem, its impact, and how it can be managed through policy change and other strategies.
Reasons Why Opioids Abuse is Becoming Common in the United States
The abuse of opioids is becoming increasingly common in the United States. One of the reasons causing this problem is the accessibility of the drug. Spehr et al. (2017) explain that unlike hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which are illegal in the country, opioids are prescription drugs, which are often legally available across the country in drug stores. Some people start using the drug for medicinal purposes before getting addicted because of prolonged use or other reasons (Carmichael et al., 2016). Purchasing hard drugs is a challenge, especially for those who lack connections to local dealers and criminal elements. However, one can easily access opioids as long as they can convince rogue doctors to prescribe the drug for them. The drug is also relatively less expensive compared to the other alternatives in the country.
Impact of Opioids Abuse
The abuse of opioids has devastating consequences on the user and society in general. From a medical perspective, the drug has a similar impact on the abuser as other hard drugs such as Cannabis sativa, heroin, and cocaine (Spehr et al., 2017). Once taken, it creates a false sense of happiness as it takes effect on one’s brain and the entire neurological system. As with other drugs, it becomes addictive. It means that the abuser will eventually rely on it to function normally. Before taking opioids, they will experience withdrawal symptoms such as pain in their entire body, lack of strength, and general discomfort. Such individuals will be forced to take the drug on a regular basis.
The more they continue to abuse the drug, the worse their medical condition becomes. According to Carmichael et al. (2016), these individuals are often forced to increase their dosage regularly to get the desired feeling, as their system gets used to the drug. It reaches a level where the body can no longer withstand the toxic materials in the drug. It is responsible for many deaths in the country, especially among youths (Spehr et al., 2017). Other than the negative health effects, addiction to opioids also has a negative economic impact. Addicts are forced to use the resources they have to purchase the drug instead of using it on developmental projects. Others even engage in criminal activities so that they can have enough money to purchase the drug.
How to Manage the Problem
It is important for American society to find ways of managing this challenge. Individual abusers of this drug and their families have a major role to play in solving the problem. It starts with one acknowledging that they have an addiction issue and becoming willing to find a lasting solution. With the help of family and friends, these individuals can then go to rehabilitation centers where they can be assisted to overcome the problem. Spehr et al. (2017) explain that the success of such programs often depends on the willpower of the addict and the support they get from their loved ones. It is also essential for the government to help in this fight through policy development. Carmichael et al. (2016) believe that the problem of opioid abuse has been brought about by rogue doctors and pharmacists who are willing to prescribe and dispense the drug knowing that it will not be used for medical purposes. The government should enact policies both at federal and state levels that would discourage such practices. These policies should outline stiff punishment for those involved in the abuse of their profession.
Opioid abuse is becoming a common problem in the United States. The ease with which addicts can access this drug and its cost are making it a drug of choice for many people. Studies have shown that over 30,000 people lose their lives annually in the country because of the abuse of the drug. It is critical for the entire society to play a major role in combating this problem. Families should support their loved ones and ensure that they go to rehabilitation facilities for appropriate therapy to help them overcome their addiction. Such individuals have to admit that they need such solutions for there to be a success in the process. The government should also find effective policies for enforcing the law to limit the availability of the drug.
Carmichael, A., Morgan, L., & Fabbro, E. (2016). Identifying and assessing the risk of opioid abuse in patients with cancer: An integrative review. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 7(2), 71-79.
Spehr, M., Coddington, J., Ahmed, A., & Jones, E. (2017). Parental opioid abuse: Barriers to care, policy, and implications for primary care pediatric providers. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 31(6), 695-702.