DR. KAREN GEDNEY always aspired to be a healer. She never imagined that she would spend 30 years in a prison in Carson City, Nevada.
After a four-year assignment for the National Health Corps, working with the incarcerated became a lifelong vocation for the internal medicine specialist. “I always wanted to work and help people who were the underdog,” Gedney recalls. Prison “is not oriented for healing or medical care; in fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s oriented to shame and punish and make people miserable.”
Conversations and interactions with inmates affirmed her notion that destructive behavior stems from a root problem in need of care. She wanted to discern these causes: “I have a high curiosity gene and a low judgmental gene. Instead of ignoring what they did, I was curious as to why. To me, if you don’t understand why someone has a certain behavior, how as a society can we ever impact a potential change?”
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