Judge Orders Funding Details for Upgrades to Prison Medical System
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson ordered the state to detail whether it had $250 million to commit to funding new prison medical facilities, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Henderson's order also requires the state to outline how and when it will provide the funds to J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed receiver for the state prison health care system (Thompson, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/8).
Henderson removed the prison medical system from state control more than two years ago after concluding that health care did not meet constitutional standards.Â He approved the construction proposal in June (California Healthline, 10/7).
Kelso wants the money as soon as possible so he can begin work on the first three of seven planned prison facilities for chronically ill inmates and those with mental illnesses (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/8).
Kelso has requested $8 billion from the state for the project (Smith, Stockton Record, 10/9).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) had asked the Legislature to approve bond funding for the project but the request was rejected (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/9).
Henderson scheduled a hearing on the matter for Oct. 27 (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 10/8).
Henderson's order says additional proceedings are needed to lay out the steps for transferring funds to Kelso from a $300 million appropriation included in AB 900, a 2007 bill that provides funds for as many as 53,000 new prison and jail beds (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 10/9).
The order also permits Kelso's attorney to depose state Finance Director Mike Genest and two of Genest's aides about potential sources of funding for Kelso's request.
Lisa Page, a spokesperson for the governor, said that the administration would be prepared to address the issue at the Oct. 27 hearing (Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times, 10/9).
Arguments between state officials and Henderson over operation of the California prison medical system raise the possibility of "one of those epic legal struggles that involve bedrock constitutional principles," columnist Dan Walters writes in the Sacramento Bee.Â The argument will center on Henderson's authority for ordering release of the funds and how to exercise that authority, according to Walters (Walters, Sacramento Bee, 10/8).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.