Policies for Guarding, Treating Prisoners Raising State Health Care Costs
The San Jose Mercury News on Thursday examined "soaring medical expenses" in the state's 32 prisons and the Department of Corrections' "costly insistence on round-the-clock guarding of comatose inmates."
In the article, the Mercury News profiles the case of Edward Rister, a Solano Valley State Prison inmate who in October 2003 was rendered unconscious after he was beaten by a cellmate. Rister has been hospitalized since the attack and, though he is breathing on his own, is not expected to regain consciousness.
According to the Mercury News, "Treatment of inmates like Rister is one reason overall prison medical bills more than doubled in five years to $1 billion annually." Moreover, the cost of transporting and guarding inmates who are taken to community hospitals has increased by 60% over the last six years. The cost of caring for and guarding Rister to date is estimated to be at least $474,000 for medical expenses and $600,000 for prison guard expenses.
Under state policy, inmates are usually required to be shackled and guarded by two officers, one armed, when they are hospitalized outside a prison (Gladstone, San Jose Mercury News, 3/3).