Deaths at Women’s Prison Were Unrelated, Reports Find
Two physician reviews of three inmate deaths at the Central California Women's Facility last month have concluded that the incidents were not related, the AP/Fresno Bee reports. The reports differed, however, on whether prison medical officials could have prevented the deaths (Thompson, AP/Fresno Bee, 1/24). The then-"unexplained" deaths of the three women -- all of whom had no ongoing health problems -- led the Department of Corrections to issue a statewide warning to inmates about the dangers of using legal and illegal drugs, as officials had feared that drug use had contributed to their deaths (California Healthline, 12/22/00). Dr. Kathleen Clannon of UC-San Francisco completed the first report, which she submitted last week to the state Legislature. She wrote that she could find "no single 'smoking gun' explanation linking these three deaths," and that it is "most likely" that they were "medically unrelated." She criticized the treatment of all three women and said that better care could have prevented their deaths. A second report by four doctors from UC-Davis agreed with Cannon's conclusion that the deaths were not related. However, they "did not fault" the treatment of the women by the prison's medically trained guards. The AP/Bee reports that advocacy groups have been "critical" of the health screening performed by medically trained guards, and state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) plans to offer legislation this year that would "eliminate the position" (AP/Fresno Bee, 1/24).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.