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The Texas prison system is changing its denture policy — creating a dedicated denture clinic and hiring a prosthodontic specialist — in an effort to ensure that more inmates get teeth.
The move to amp up dental care comes after a Houston Chronicle investigation found that toothless and nearly toothless inmates in Texas prisons were routinely being denied dentures and instead offered pureed food.
Dentures - Dr - Lanette - Linthicum - Director
“We want to see more dentures prescribed,’ said Dr. Lanette Linthicum, medical director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Aside from the new policy proposal and clinic creation, the prison system plans to review denture-related grievances from the past year and re-evaluate those prisoners who filed complaints, hold training for unit dentists to clarify when dentures are necessary, and put together a review board to look at who needs dentures and who doesn’t.
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The changes — some of which are already underway — drew laudits from advocates, though some said the issue still speaks to the need for independent oversight of the prison system.
Doug - Smith - Texas - Criminal - Justice
“It’s amazing,” said Doug Smith of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. “But it shouldn’t take this. I think TDCJ should want independent oversight as much as the community.”
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said he is glad the state responded “correctly” but expressed disappointment that refusal to give dentures had ever been a problem in the first place.
State - Responsibility - Safety - Welfare - Citizens
“The state has a responsibility for the safety and welfare of the citizens we incarcerate,” he said. “I just expect them to provide proper care before I read about it in the Chronicle.”
In 2016, prison medical providers approved giving out 71 dentures to a population of more than 149,000 inmates, many of whom are elderly, have a history of drug use or came from impoverished backgrounds with...
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