I have a medical issue that requires ongoing care, but I lost my health insurance. Getting into a clinic is a hassle; it drags on, and it isn't guaranteed. So I'm thinking—if I get myself arrested, will I have access to health care? I'm not talking about a serious crime, just enough to get locked up and looked at.
—J in SE Portland
"If [a prisoner] has medical needs, they will get fulfilled," says Lt. Vera Pool, the officer in charge of the downtown jail on the day I called. "We don't deny medical care to anyone."
So there you have it, J—you're in. A little cockfighting here, a little barratry there, and soon you'll be checking into one of our state's many fine jails' free hospitals, chortling as you pity all us poor saps who aren't wise to this sweet, sweet scam. What could possibly go wrong?
Unless, of course, you're one of those rare individuals with whom jail life doesn't agree. To find out, try taking this simple test:
True or False—I would enjoy being trapped in a crowded elevator at a soccer riot, forever.
Seriously, J; I hate to harsh your mellow, but I think you may be underestimating the shittiness of jail. It's not all soft-boiled eggs and highballs with Scooter Libby, and if you think waiting for a doctor at Outside In is a hassle, try waiting for the parole board.
Both the United Way and Multnomah County have referral lines for folks in your situation, and if that doesn't work, you can always pull a dine-and-dash at the emergency room.
Sure, it won't be great for your credit rating, but compared to the prison record you were practically begging for a minute ago, a few unpaid medical bills are kids' stuff.