Report: Spending Up on Prison Health Services, Construction Projects
State spending on prison health care services and construction projects have increased significantly in recent years, but little progress has been made in building new facilities, according to a new report from the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In 2006, a three-judge panel appointed a federal receiver to address major problems with California's inmate medical care (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26).
The panel ruled that conditions in California's prison health care system were so poor that they violated the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
The judges granted the federal receiver all the powers of the secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation with respect to the delivery of inmate medical care (California Healthline, 5/3/10).
According to the Assembly committee report, state spending on prison health care has increased by more than 65% since 2006.
The report also noted that the state spent more than $82 million on construction projects between October 2007 and August 2010, even though many of the projects later were abandoned. For example, the committee found that three firms received a total of $27 million to plan construction for prison medical facilities that never were built.
Response From Receiver's Office
Nancy Kincaid -- a spokesperson for prison health care receiver J. Clark Kelso -- said Kelso took over from a previous receiver in 2008 after several contracts already had been authorized. Kincaid added that all of the expenses paid by the previous receiver followed federal guidelines.
Kincaid also noted that Kelso has helped curb prison health care spending since he took on the receiver position.
On Wednesday, Kelso is scheduled to make a presentation to the Assembly panel showing that the overall death rate at California's prison health care facilities has decreased by at least 10% since 2006 (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/26).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.