FMC Devens Photo


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Federal Medical Center in Devens, MA Courtesy of Google Earth

The Federal Medical Center in Devens, MA where I spent six months as a federal prison inmate. The prison houses Federal inmates of all security levels. Nearly 1,000 inmates currently call FMC Devens home. Some look forward to release in the months to come. Others count years and decades. Many will never see the outside world again.

FMC Devens is referred to by the BOP as a Medical Center, which I remember always sounded quite quaint like one might forget that they were actually incarcerated in a federal prison. In reality, Federal Medical Center is government public relations talk for “One federal prison housing inmates of all security levels and all severities of sentences with a small clinic and hospital staffed by a handful of nurses and doctors who are severely understaffed and woefully underfunded.”

Assigned to FMC Devens for an oftentimes debilitating back condition, the medical care I received was marginal at best. The nurses I met with openly admitted that pain medication I should be receiving was not available as security trumped my medical needs (narcotic painkillers and sleeping medication are both banned in federal prison in all but the most severe conditions) and further they openly apologized that more expensive nerve medicine that would likely have helped me was not available because of the prohibitive cost.

FMC Devens is home to hundreds of sex offenders, many of whom have been sentenced for the viewing and distribution of child pornography. The federal prison is also home to many inmates who suffer from severe psychological problems. The BOP’s medical care for these inmates seems to be massive doses of the drug Thorazine, which leaves the patient in an almost zombie-like slumber. Diabetics make up a significant percentage of FMC Devens inmates, many of whom spend hours each day undergoing dialysis.

Apart from sex offenders, diabetics and psychological patients, there are hundreds of inmates who are more or less healthy and normal, but who had a previous medical condition outlined in their PSI or who have been transferred from another federal prison in order to receive evaluation and treatment for a new medical problem. My celly for example was transferred from another prison in order to receive treatment for an eye condition that he had developed. After 8 months he finally saw a specialist. Four months later, he was still waiting for treatment.

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