Receiver’s Report Criticizes Prison Health Care
The receiver appointed by a federal judge to oversee reforms of California's prison health care system on Wednesday released a report that found "[a]lmost every necessary element of a working medical care system either does not exist or functions in a state of abject disrepair," the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports (Thompson, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/6).
The receiver, Robert Sillen, said it likely will be necessary to ask a federal judge to suspend state laws, contracts and regulations that have slowed progress in addressing problems in the prison medical system (Warren, Los Angeles Times, 7/6). Sillen also said he will "spend far in excess" of the $100 million allocated for prison health care reform in the state budget.
In the report, Sillen criticized the prison's overly bureaucratic procedures and said the state has wasted millions of dollars to purchase unnecessary medicine, while declining to purchase computer systems that would have helped correct the problem (Martin, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/6).
An audit released by Sillen found that California's prison medication costs were as much as $80 million higher than those of a comparable corrections system (Los Angeles Times, 7/6).
In addition, Sillen wrote that prison overcrowding is a major source of the systemwide health care problems but that building new prisons likely will not solve the problems (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 7/6).
Sillen said he might ask a federal judge to remove prison health care from the corrections department and make it a separate operation.
Sillen also announced a pilot project at San Quentin State Prison, which he said would improve inmate health care within 90 days (Los Angeles Times, 7/6).
Several broadcast programs reported on the report:
- KPCC's "Air Talk": Guests on the program included Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), chair of Select Committee on California's Correctional System; Sillen; and Jenifer Warren, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times (Chen, "AirTalk," KPCC, 7/6). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KPCC's "KPCC News": The segment includes comments from Sillen (Jahad, "KPCC News," KPCC, 7/6). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "The California Report": The segment includes comments from Sgt. Eric Messick, spokesperson for San Quentin Prison, and Sillen (Campbell, "The California Report," KQED, 7/6). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.