In August 2021, twenty-nine-year-old Edrick Floreal-Wooten was treated for COVID-19 with oral medications at an Arkansas prison: “I didn’t figure Washington County was going to make me an experiment and use drugs the CDC didn’t recommend,” he protested. “I’m not livestock. I’m a human being.” Despite the availability of state-of-the-art vaccines, Arkansas’s prisoners did not receive them. Instead, they were offered a “handful of pills… [and] told… it was steroids, antibiotics and vitamins.” Floreal-Wooten and others incarcerated there later learned one of the medications they were given was ivermectin, an antiparasitic developed for roundworm diseases and used for humans and farm animals. The FDA and CDC explicitly cautioned against its use. Still, the prison doctor, Robert Karas, publicly defended his choices, claiming he had dispensed ivermectin since late 2020 and “not one single patient of the five hundred plus who have followed our plan of care has been hospitalized, intubated or died.” He insisted he was not “conducting [his] own clinical trial or study.” To his patients and critics, though—including the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought a lawsuit against Karas and the prison—that was exactly what he seemed to be doing (Sissom 2021; Crafts 2021).

This essay may be found on page 87 of the printed volume.

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