CALIFORNIA YOUTH AUTHORITY: Medical Facilities Remain Unlicensed
The Youth Law Center in San Francisco is charging that California Youth Authority inmates are being treated in unlicensed medical centers that fail to meet state standards and is expected to file a lawsuit Thursday to that effect, the Associated Press reports. The lawsuit seeks an order that the department secure licenses for the centers. Youth Law Center lawyer Susan Burrell said that the centers have not been licensed "because they really can't be. They don't meet these standards in any way, shape or form" (5/12). Youth Law Center filed the suit on behalf of Dr. Robert Morris, a Los Angeles pediatrician. Morris said, "Perhaps no adolescent population has greater health and mental health needs than the youth in juvenile justice institutions. It's especially disturbing that CYA fails to assure that its inpatient services to these youth meets even the minimum licensing standards imposed by law" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 5/12).
Trying to Get Licensed
At the same time, the Board of Corrections is auditing the department, examining medical care as well as mental health care services. Sarah Ludeman, spokesperson for the department, said that it has "been working for some time to bring [the] sites into compliance." In December 1995, the state Department of Health Services told CYA that its facilities must be licensed, after which time, the CYA "sought more money to improve its medical services but has yet to secure licenses." Health Services has reminded CYA a few times of the need to be licensed, one time telling CYA about staffing concerns. The authority requested $1 million this fiscal year to create a mental health treatment center at one facility to make up for scarce mental health services. It is unclear whether that request was included in the approved budget. In the previous year, the budget did include a request to increase the number of pharmacists and assistants at several facilities (Associated Press, 5/12).