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Prison Inmate Plastic Surgery on Taxpayer Dime: Right, Wrong?

Before I even give you this scenario, I can tell you right now I say "No!" Seriously, (almost) no gray area for me.

Now, here's the deal: Daryl Strenke, 45, is serving 30 years in a Wisconsin prison as part of a 60-year sentence, for murdering his ex-girlfriend, the first half of what he apparently planned to be a murder-suicide.

Strenke lured Samantha Verby out of her home, blasted her in the face with a shotgun, with her 7-year-old daughter a few feet away, and then turned the gun on himself.

While aiming at himself Strenke suddenly became a bad shot and instead of dying, mangled his face.

His mother says he's "tortured" daily by the physical pain caused by his self-inflicted injuries...again, self inflicted after he shot his recent ex-girlfriend point blank in the face.

Drumroll, please! The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is about to embark on a series of expensive cosmetic surgeries, at taxpayer expense, to repair Strenke's face and ease his pain.

They say, it's their obligation to provide medical care to inmates, because inmates are wards of the state. I get that argument, and I actually agree with it, if the medical care is either basic "maintenance" stuff or emergency care to save an inmate's life or prevent his death.

But no one with the WDoC will say whether Strenke's disfigurement and related issues make for a life or death situation. His mother says though that the surgery is needed 'cause he can't speak clearly, he's in constant pain, and since he shot his teeth off all his food has to be puréed. So he's in pain, can't chew solid food, and has difficulty talking.

Should he get the surgery, and should the state pay for it?

You already know my answer. I'd say 30 years in prison with physical pain and disfigurement serving as a daily reminder that you murdered someone is a fair trade off. My one exception would be if Strenke's family/supporters can pay for the surgery themselves.

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Jeni Hill Ertmer

Ouch! This one really puts a person between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, denying him the surgery keeps him in pain, unable to eat properly, etc., and that could be construed, I suppose, by some as equivalent to torture or cruel and unusual punishment. And yet, there is the feeling that perhaps he is getting exactly what he deserved too. I dunno, to be truthful, which I think would be fairer. I think I'd have to flip a coin cause it is pretty much a toss-up in my mind.


if you're going to have beautified people in jail there goes your argument as to why you can't go.
i'd say no too, especially if the taxpayer is paying. i'm all for the serious criminals suffering for their crime in that sort of fashion, even if it has to be state-inflicted. it would be a sort of long term death penalty.

the sarcasticynic

Take the word 'plastic' or 'cosmetic' out of the equation and it becomes a different story. States the corrections spokesman John Dipko, any "reconstructive surgery would be undertaken for medically necessary reasons only, not for elective purposes."

What if a convict's botched suicide attempt were to leave him with agonizing back pain correctable with state-paid surgery? This isn't about making a con look pretty. This is about having sympathy for a human in pain, regardless of how he got there.

Andy Williams

How about we release the inmate and let him pay for the surgery himself.


Just a question becaus I didn't see it anywhere.... Is he on suicide watvh? Not sure how or if that affects this, just curious.

James B.

Jeni, I feel your pain - no pun intended. I suppose I'm sorta on the fence too, but only because the state hasn't made clear whether or not the surgery is necessary to save his life.

Insomniac, here here! You are correct, I am too pretty to go to jail. But this if this were a case of him being made pretty after going to jail, I'd be 100% against it. As it stands, I'm 99.9% against the surgery, unless the DoC issues a public statement that the surgery is needed to save the inmate's life.

Sarc, I don't think I'm too cruel a person. I've never kicked a puppy or run over a cat or pimp-slapped the screaming 3-year-old who was kicking the back of my chair on an airplane. But I gotta disagree with you here. I'm no doctor, so I didn't take a hypocratic oath to try to save lives and heal people. Morally, if I came upon this loser at a crime scene or an accident scene I would try to help. Later when the facts were sorted out I might be miffed that I aided a cold-blooded killer. But this situation's different. It would be one thing if the state of Wisconsin was causing this guy's pain. He caused it, shortly after killing a woman in front of her daughter for no better reason than she broke up with him. Hard for me to sympathize for anyone but that woman's orphaned daughter.

Andy, not a terrible idea, but if they let him out who's to say he doesn't meet another sympathetic woman a few months from now and then when/if she breaks up with him too, he tries this whole routine all over again?

Desirae Slayton

Im sorry but I have NO sympathy for him, he killed the mother of a 7 yr old daughter without a father to go to either. For the last 11 years. She has changed the way she thinks on a killer, and that if a person kills someone, they should be killed with the electric chair. Im Harsh. I know. He shouldnt have had the surgery. And the family that he did this too shouldnt have had to pay for it, they already paid for it by loosing a daughter/mother/sister. The damn fool should live in "pain" for the rest of his life. and how does the mother know if he's "in" pain.

This is the 7 yr old daughter that is going to be an adult soon. And i was right there and saw everything.

He doesnt deserve to live.

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