Judge Criticizes Prison Health Care, Outlines Reasons for Takeover
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Monday issued a 53-page finding describing an "unconscionable degree of suffering and death" in the state-run prison health care system, after his July order that a federal receiver take control of the system, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Henderson's report outlined his reasons for the takeover.
Prison and state officials more than three years ago reached an agreement to examine inmate deaths and improve prison health care, but Henderson said progress has been "piecemeal."
The report cites poorly equipped and unsanitary medical facilities, as well as interference from guards in the health care system, the Mercury News reports. "Too frequently medical care decisions are pre-empted by custodial staff who have been given improper managerial responsibility over medical decision-making," Henderson said. In addition, Henderson said pharmaceutical drugs are thrown away because of mismanagement at San Quentin State Prison, and medical records in prisons are not effectively managed.
With the help of a prison legal expert, Henderson will launch a nationwide search for a permanent administrator to oversee the prison health care system. In the meantime, John Hagar, the court-appointed special master at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, will coordinate improvements such as hiring new physicians and nurses (Gladstone, San Jose Mercury News, 10/4).