California Still Spending Millions on Medically Incapacitated Inmates
This year, California taxpayers will pay more than $50 million to treat medically incapacitated inmates at non-prison hospitals, according to the office of the federal receiver who oversees the state's prison health care system, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Guarding the Patients
Between $19 million and $21 million of those costs will go toward prison guards' salaries, benefits and overtime.
Regardless of whether an inmate at a non-prison hospital is medically incapacitated, state policy requires corrections officers to guard the inmate 24 hours per day.
Law Seeks To Shift Costs
In September 2010, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed a bill (SB 1399), by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), that allows the state to grant medical parole to incapacitated inmates.
If an inmate were released under the program, the cost of caring for the individual would shift to the inmate's family or a government health insurance program. The move also would eliminate the expense of guarding the inmate.
State Working To Implement Law
So far, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has yet to schedule any hearings for inmates seeking medical parole.
Terri McDonald -- chief deputy secretary of adult operations for California prisons -- said CDCR has been working with the federal receiver to draft regulations to implement the new law. McDonald said she could not predict when the first medical parole hearing would take place (Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 3/2).
Brown Downsizes Plan To Shift Prison Responsibilities
In related news, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently scaled back his plan to shift responsibility for managing certain prisoners and parolees from the state to local governments.
The downsized plan reduced the number of parolees that counties would need to supervise by 80,000 and cut the number of inmates that counties would need to incarcerate by 8,000.The revised plan also provides additional funds for local agencies to provide mental health care, foster care and other services (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 3/1). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.