A Brief Update on Dr. Punyamurtula S. Kishore
This is the ninth in a series of articles about addiction treatment pioneer Dr. Punyamurtula S. Kishore, the Christian physician who was jailed in early April, 2015. If you’ve not been following this story, please read through the previous eight articles that have appeared in Faith for All of Life since the March-April 2014 issue. There is far too much material (enough for a planned book, in fact) to recap it all here. In the nature of the case, this article is a transitional one, intended to update readers with the latest information.
Dr. Kishore has been receiving an outpouring of support by mail, thanks in large part (as he said in his own words) to Chalcedon’s readership responding to the exhortation to contact him while he is incarcerated by the state of Massachusetts. These have served to deepen his resolve to rebuild his practice upon his release. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Prov. 24:16). Not all mail sent to Dr. Kishore has reached him, regrettably. It was learned that those who wrote letters using blue ink had their correspondence returned to them. It was discovered that there exists a rule that incoming mail must all be written in black ink (perhaps to make sure the letters can be the more easily Xeroxed). That is consistent with the known fact that all incoming and outgoing mail is carefully inspected, and every phone call dutifully recorded. When Dr. Kishore and I have spoken by phone during his captivity, the automated preamble advises that if I’m an attorney, I need to call back on a secure (unmonitored) line. As we have nothing to hide, we let Big Brother listen as we discussed plans for a renewed attack on the state’s addiction crisis.
That the crisis has national proportions was made all the more obvious when TIME magazine recently ran a cover story on opioid addiction. The notion of being literally “hooked” on drugs was realized graphically with a picture of a fish hook upon which a pill had been spiked to serve as bait. If the gatekeepers at a national magazine of this caliber regard the story as being that newsworthy, we do indeed have a crisis at hand.
Predictably, the article constitutes little more than hand-wringing and finger-pointing (not necessarily in that order). Apparently, record-breaking clinical results in delivering individuals from opioid addiction were not considered newsworthy: there is no mention of the Massachusetts Model of addiction treatment developed by Dr. Kishore. Perhaps this is no surprise: the mainstream media is more likely to put Dr. Kishore on the crime blotter page than on the medical innovation page—to their utter discredit.
The Next Steps
It is, of course, very difficult to rebuild a clinical practice from behind bars. Not many visitors will be granted access to you. We know of supporters who traveled to the Suffolk County facility to see Dr. Kishore and who were denied visitation as a result of red tape technicalities (e.g., having filled out a Xerox copy of the visitation form rather than picking up an original from the jail). Phone access is very limited. Overcoming these restrictions and setbacks is a challenge, but it is a challenge Dr. Kishore is willing to take on.
Perhaps the only mercy the state of Massachusetts is extending to the victims of its massive addiction crisis is the fact that it is shortening Dr. Kishore’s sentence. The original jail term was set at five-and-a-half months, but due to “good behavior” (the prisoner appears to be fairly good at planting trees for community service projects), he will likely serve only half that time. At last report, it was unlikely that Dr. Kishore would still be incarcerated by July, when this article appears in print. He will have been set free to resume the fight against his state’s addiction crisis.
It will be an uphill battle. The fifty-two clinics he once operated won’t come back overnight, as the state has been very efficient in converting Dr. Kishore’s life’s work “into ruinous heaps” (Isa. 37:26). Rebuilding from ashes will be the order of the day.
Whether or not some level of crowd-funding will serve to bridge the capital gap to resume this work has yet to be seen. If God’s people “are willing in the day of His power” (Psalm 110:3), we will soon see the rebuilding project being pursued in earnest. Dr. Kishore’s heart is in it for the people of the nation. If the people’s heart is willing to work toward deliverance from the scourge of addiction, the results will be revolutionary.
Pray for strength for the men and women who will need to sacrifice of their time and means to help overcome the tremendous deficit that Massachusetts inflicted on itself when it destroyed the most successful addiction treatment regimen developed to date. Come September 2015, the persecution of Dr. Kishore will have lasted four years: four years of withheld treatments the people could ill afford to be without. By attempting to destroy Dr. Kishore, the state has knowingly worked overtime to destroy critical treatment for its walking wounded (we know this because the prosecutors have been monitoring this series of articles). Once released, Dr. Kishore will again exhibit the same self-sacrificial spirit as before to regain ground lost due to statist overreach and crony capitalism.
The reconstruction of the medical enterprise would have been a difficult task under the best of circumstances. To redouble one’s efforts after three years of incapacitating legal battles and literal incarceration makes the prospects for success even dimmer. But the entire time he was in custody, Dr. Kishore was thinking, “How can I help deliver even more people from crippling addiction? How can I improve my treatment track record and push it up even higher?” True, the means to achieve these things aren’t evident, but Dr. Kishore’s unbreakable will to realize these goals is in full force, and the proven methods he had painstakingly developed are at hand.
When Dr. Kishore was locked up, the lockup of his treatment method (instigated by the state destruction of his clinics in late 2011) found its human complement. But upon Dr. Kishore’s imminent release, his treatment methods will, in principle, also be released. There remain significant obstacles to be overcome, the first being the recovery of Dr. Kishore’s medical license. With a dedicated attorney working pro bono to battle the Board of Medicine over that key credential, the guarded prospects look positive. This will be one of many battles yet to be fought, but Dr. Kishore will have already absorbed the deadliest impact upon his work through his imprisonment: the dropping of all the most crippling charges. Compared to the situation before his incarceration, the runway before him upon release looks to be relatively clear.
We will provide information concerning ways to support the restoration of this tragically-derailed addiction treatment program once it becomes available. In the meantime, the physician has experienced firsthand what addicts swallowed up by the legal system do. This, he tells me, fills in crucial pieces of the puzzle he might not have known had persecution not put him in the position to see the system operate from the inside. As Dr. Kishore said, “God had a purpose for me being in here.”
Would to God that more of us could be that certain of God’s purpose forour lives—even when His purposes include unjust imprisonment.
The First Eight Articles in This Series:
Martin G. Selbrede is Chalcedon’s resident scholar and Editor of Faith for All of Life and the Chalcedon Report.