Tough Call?

Radley Balko at Reason’s Hit and Run draws attention to this story and asks what should be done:

Behind the county hospital’s tall cinderblock walls, a 27-year-old tuberculosis patient sits in a jail cell equipped with a ventilation system that keeps germs from escaping.

Robert Daniels has been locked up indefinitely, perhaps for the rest of his life, since last July. But he has not been charged with a crime. Instead, he suffers from an extensively drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, or XDR-TB. It is considered virtually untreatable.

County health authorities obtained a court order to lock him up as a danger to the public because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others. Specifically, he said he did not heed doctors’ instructions to wear a mask in public.

Any thoughts?


  1. I read about that in new scientist.

    If it was me i’d be quite willing to be locked up. Knowing your probably going to kill somebody close to you.

  2. I think that if there are precautions that a person can take to not spread the illness then it isn?t necessary to lock them up, and since this guy didn?t follow them he should be locked up. But, it does sound like they are treating him in an inhuman way, even criminals get some form of human contact?.granted in his case this is problematic, but with today?s technology it is possible?.i.e. web cameras, people have to remember that he isn?t a ?normal? or ?typical? inmate, he should still be entitled to some rights.

    I can?t imagine being locked up for something that isn?t my fault.

  3. This is a tough one and I’m not really sure there is a choice. If he is a danger to others in society then society does have the right to protect itself.

    However, putting him in “jail” with no outside contact does seem a bit harsh. I would think a medical facility would make more sense and to allow him options like use of the Internet, music and television. A little compassion for the poor guy does seem in order since the disease is certainly not his fault and he has no control over it.

  4. It’s difficult to asses the condition of a man with such a detremental circumstance, one so inescapable. When faced with a fate so dismal one can be absolutly consumed by apathy. If he might go as far as to void such a simple precaution as a mask one can only stipulate that he just doesn’t care so why should we? Perhaps he feels dehumanized wearing the apparatus, oh well… Euthanasia?

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