Prison Health Care Reformer Opposes Building Project
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has postponed a plan to add inmate beds to a Fresno County prison following a report commissioned by the state's prison medical receiver that uncovered a high rate of valley fever in the prison, the Sacramento Bee reports.
More than 900 cases of valley fever have been reported at Pleasant Valley State Prison in the past four years, including at least 12 deaths since 2004, according to the Bee.
State corrections officials included the prison in a $7.9 billion construction plan to reduce overcrowding by adding 53,000 new beds.
However, in a report commissioned by prison health reformer Robert Sillen, public health officials, prison physicians and academic experts recommended against building in the southern San Joaquin Valley, a region that includes Pleasant Valley prison.
Deborah Hysen -- the prison agency's chief deputy secretary in charge of facilities, planning and construction -- said the report prompted state officials to postpone the plan at Pleasant Valley until they are "responsive to the report."
Rachael Kagan, spokesperson for Sillen, said, "We're pleased they're taking it very seriously and that the department is planning to take actions that keep inmates and staff health in mind."
Edward Moreno, Fresno County's public health officer, said that if "construction were to continue" at Pleasant Valley, "it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that we could continue to see more cases" of valley fever at the prison (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 10/17).