An inside look at health care in prison

RALEIGH, N.C. -- “I'm supposed to be in the prime of my life,” William Brown said. “And I'm not.”

He’s 36.

But, unlike most 36-year-olds, William Brown is in prison. And, unlike most inmates, he’s in Central Prison, in Raleigh, because he’s sick.

“We get everybody,” Warden Eddie Thomas said. Well, everybody who has a significant illness.

“I've got cancer,” inmate George Woods said. “I found out in the county jail. Took my legs right out from underneath me.”

But both Woods and Brown, who has also been diagnosed with cancer, are likely getting better care in prison than they would if they were free.

“This place is very comparable to any community hospital,” said Dr. Olushola Metiko, who has been the main, in-house physician for the hospital for a number of years.

Dr. Metiko has been working hard to keep the cost of care reasonable, knowing taxpayers foot the bill.

“There are some patients we are spending $10,000, $15,000 a month just for chemotherapy,” Metiko said. “Some just opt out of treatment, they say, 'Just leave me alone. I'm not going to take chemo, I'm not going to take radiation.' But those are very few.”

Meanwhile, the patients have to sit in their cells, without visitors, as they deal with their often fatal illnesses.

“There are so many things that I want to say to so many people - I'm not finished, yet, there's still a whole lot that I want to do,” Brown said. “I don't want to die here. And it scares me to death that I might.”

See how the hospital works and how the Department of Public Safety is working to keep costs down, while providing the needed care, in this edition of the Buckley Report.