Dad says his teeth make him look like he belongs on Hee Haw. He's wrong. The hillbillies on Hee Haw have better teeth than him. See, in his prison, problem teeth are pulled rather than repaired. For Dad, this means many of his back teeth have been yanked and his remaining front teeth are grinding down at a rapid rate since they're being used for chewing instead of their intended purpose of biting. They've ground down to yellow nubs, exposing the nerves. He's in tremendous pain but there's nothing to be done.
Actually, there is one way he can get dentures: starve. The barometer to gauge whether he is eligible for dentures is to get his BMI measured. If he's starving to death, then he can get a set.
My dentist's office is state-of-the-art and located in the Helmsley Building, a midtown NYC landmark distinctive because it straddles Park Avenue routing traffic crosses "through" the building. Other clients include people like David Letterman and Howard Stern. I get my teeth cleaned three times a year instead of the usual recommended two. The contrast between the care I receive and what Dad gets is sharp and makes me feel guilty.
But then I think: if you want your teeth taken care of properly, don't try to kill your girlfriend.
I, like many people, assumed that prisoners got treated better than a lot of hard working folks in the Free World. I've heard the complaint that it's like inmates are being pampered at a hotel instead of being punished. Well, let this reassure you they are not. They don't play basketball all day, have their own private TVs and get top notch health care. Prison sucks, as it rightfully should.
It does beg the question: is prison about punishment or rehabilitation? Assuming he's never granted parole, Dad will be 75 years old when he gets out. And, really, who cares about an elderly ex-inmate? But let's pretend he were 45. He would be spit out into the public without any required counseling, missing teeth, and with a felony on his record. What do you think the chances are that he'll get a job and be a proper citizen? Pretty low, I think. The whole system creates destinies to fail.
If you were in charge, how would you deal with the care of offenders of all stripes? From the young to the old? From the minor offenders to the guys serving life without parole?