Inmates File Class-Action Suit Over Medical Care
In "the largest class-action [suit] ever filed over prison conditions," nine inmates and their lawyers are suing the state over its "woefully inadequate" prison health care system, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The suit, which was filed on behalf of the state's 160,000 inmates, alleges that California's prison health care system "systematically ignor[es]" prisoners' health needs and suffers from "poor training, staff shortages, delays in access to doctors and tests, interference by guards and defective care for HIV-positive prisoners." The suit also charges that the state prison health care system is inadequate that it "violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment" (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/6). Currently, the state is facing 717 pending individual lawsuits over prison medical care and has spent almost $1.9 million this fiscal year to settle other cases. Although the Davis administration says that it has "been working hard" to correct the "serious problems" in prison care, the lawsuit alleges that state officials "have not responded reasonably to this dire situation" and are unlikely to do so "without judicial intervention" (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 4/6). According to the inmates' lawyers, they had been negotiating a settlement with the governor's office for 18 months when Davis "cut off" talks last January. State officials did not comment on that claim, stating that negotiations "were to be kept secret." However, officials said that the plaintiffs' demands were "excessive" (Warren, Los Angeles Times, 4/6). The inmates, represented by attorneys from the not-for-profit Prison Law Office, are seeking a statewide injunction mandating improvements in the system and damages.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.