Prison Health Receiver Expects To Seek Order for Funds by August
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the court-appointed receiver for California's prison health care system said that he expects to request a court order as early as the first week of August requiring the state to pay as much as $2.5 billion from the state general fund to begin construction on new prison medical facilities.
J. Clark Kelso was appointed by Federal District Court Judge Thelton Henderson to bring the state's prison health care system up to constitutional standards after a class-action lawsuit found that state officials failed to improve conditions at the facilities.
Earlier this year, Kelso worked with lawmakers to craft a proposal that would have had the state issue bonds to cover the cost of building seven new prison medical facilities. The proposal called for $7 billion in revenue bonds to be repaid over 25 years.
Republican lawmakers rejected the proposal, setting the stage for Kelso to seek the court order compelling the state to begin making the payments from the general fund as lawmakers work to address an estimated $15.2 billion budget deficit.
Kelso says that he tried to push lawmakers to work with him by authorizing facility designs, accepting construction bids and sending the bills to the state (White, Wall Street Journal, 7/21).
Kelso's proposal to locate one of the seven medical facilities in Camarillo in Ventura County would negatively affect the area by placing high-risk prisoners in close proximity to schools and residences and luring medical personnel from area hospitals to the prison facility, Assembly member Audra Strickland (D-Moorpark) writes in a Ventura County Star opinion piece.
"Ventura County residents need to let the federal receiver know Ventura County is not the place for this type of prison," Strickland writes (Strickland, Ventura County Star, 7/20).