Lawmakers Deny Funding for Proposed Prison Hospital
The Senate last week opposed legislation to provide a $146 million bond to fund construction of a new hospital at San Quentin State Prison, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Under SB 99, funding for the facility would come from a $7.9 billion prison overhaul plan that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed into law this spring (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 8/28).
The Senate voted to reconsider the bill despite its lack of support from both parties (Myers, "Capital Notes" KQED, 8/27).
The measure was written after Assembly Republicans withdrew support of legislation (SB 843) that would have provided new funds to pay for the facility, voicing concerns about the state's rising debt.
Rachael Kagan, spokesperson for prison medical receiver Robert Sillen, said the receiver's office is "not dependent on legislative appropriations to do our job." She added that Sillen is prepared to seek a court order to obtain the funds "if it comes to that."
Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater) said he would lead the effort to appeal any court order by Sillen that would use money from the general fund to pay for the hospital (Sacramento Bee, 8/28).
Meanwhile, Joyce Hayhoe, chief lobbyist for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, last week told a legislative hearing that the prison system will be able to "fully fill all of our peace officer vacancies within the next 18 months."
Hayhoe said aggressive recruiting efforts that will include outsourcing some of its background checks will help fill the 3,200 vacancies in a force of 31,000 jobs.
Hayhoe's estimates were met with skepticism from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and from Sillen, who said that "if somebody doesn't hire (correctional officers) in significant numbers soon, everybody's going to be in trouble" (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 8/29).
U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson last week refused to grant a motion by Sillen to remove the Prison Law Office's authority to monitor medical care delivery in the prisons (Sacramento Bee, 8/28).
The firm in June filed a complaint that charged Sillen's prison health care reform plan of having "no concrete details of how any of the goals or objectives are to be accomplished, no real timelines and no metrics."
Sillen's appointment as prison receiver was the result of a class-action lawsuit brought by the Prison Law Office (Moore, New York Times, 8/27).