Prison Officials Release Plan To Reform System, Improve Inmate Care
On Monday, California prison officials released a plan for reorganizing the state's prisons and ending federal oversight ofÂ inmates' health care services, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Thompson, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/23).
About six years ago, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed J. Clark Kelso to oversee the state's prison health care system after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of malpractice or neglect.
In May 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to help improve health care.
Since then, the state has begun shifting low-level offenders to county jails to address prison overcrowding and building new health facilities at prisons.
In January, Henderson said the federal receivership overseeing California's prison health care can end because the state has improved inmate care.
A recent report from the Legislative Analyst's Office said California should create an independent board to monitor prison health care after federal oversight ends (California Healthline, 4/20).
Details of Prison Overhaul Plan
One of the primary goals of the reorganization plan -- released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- is to improve inmate health care so that prisons can operate without federal oversight by the end of 2013.
As part of its overhaul plan, CDCR proposed:
- Closing the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco;
- Ending contracts with out-of-state prisons and returning 9,500 inmates to California by 2016;
- Cutting about 6,400 jobs; and
- Stopping most of a prison expansion program.
Matthew Cate -- secretary of CDCR -- estimated that the plan would save the state $1 billion the first year it is enacted and $1.5 billion in years following (Stanton, Sacramento Bee, 4/24).
Reaction to Plan
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) in a statement said, "California is finally getting its prison costs under control and taking the necessary steps to meet federal court mandates" (Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 4/24).
Nancy Kincaid -- spokesperson for Kelso -- said, "One of the issues that does need to be addressed is making sure that access to quality health care can be maintained," adding, "Only the court can make that determination." She said Kelso wants to study the plan before commenting further (Sacramento Bee, 4/24).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.