TB Armando

An alcohol binging meth addict by the name of Armando Rodriguez has been jailed for not abiding by his needed treatment for his active TB:

Rodriguez has been noncompliant with his treatment and could become contagious as a result, Ginger Wick, nursing director for San Joaquin County, said in a letter requesting a warrant for Rodriguez’s arrest.

After failing one time to give himself the drugs, Rodriguez told a nurse he had gone on an alcohol binge and taken methamphetamine and didn’t want to hurt his liver, Wick said in her letter.

Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday and is expected to be arraigned Thursday on two misdemeanor counts of refusing to comply with a tuberculosis order to be at home at certain times and make appointments to take his medication.

This is a modern day case of Typhoid Mary, the woman who was responsible for multiple deaths in the early 20th century. The difference here is that Rodriguez appears to also have a drug problem, so I suppose a case can be made that his irresponsibility isn’t as motivated by douchiness as Mary Mallon’s was.

Many of those who do support criminal prosecution in the rarest of cases when public health is in jeopardy oppose the jailing of patients.

“I think it’s an error to confine someone in the criminal justice system for a public health crime,” said Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University public health law professor who drafted a model law adopted by several states struggling with the issue. “The whole intention is to protect the public’s health. It’s not to lay blame on someone.”

I can only get behind this in part. The criminal justice system is needed, but jail or prison isn’t appropriate. Rodriguez has to be quarantined until he is able to comply with public health interests. (Also, I disagree with Gostin’s implication that the purpose of the criminal justice system is to lay blame on someone. Its purpose is rehabilitation and public safety, not revenge.)