The Death of Luisa Montalvo

Nancy Stoller

in Interrupted Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520252493
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944565 | DOI:
The Death of Luisa Montalvo

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In prisons, access to health care requires that prisoners move from their residential units to clinics or other sites of care where they can see a nurse or a physician. The prisoner's movement through the geographical space of the prison is intensively controlled by custody policies, routines, economies, and spur-of-the-moment decisions. These policies and practices, primarily determined by custodial priorities, can create significant delays, roadblocks, and detours on the routes to care. In their accounts, incarcerated women who sought health care repeatedly reported lost laboratory results and the need to wait days for urgent prescriptions or months for important appointments. Several were forced to take improperly labeled medication intended for other patients. Many never had the tests or appointments that were ordered. The case of Luisa Montalvo, a woman prisoner with HIV, demonstrates the magnitude of the difficulty of locating and receiving the benefits of health services in a prison. Her story captures the most hideous consequence of terrible health care in prison: death.

Keywords: Luisa Montalvo; health care; death; HIV; incarcerated women; prisons; custody policies; laboratory results

Chapter.  3011 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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