Report: State Prisons Fall Short in Medical Care Conditions for Inmates
Although California has spent billions of dollars on its prison medical system over the past few years, inmates still are receiving inadequate medical care, according to a new report by the prison system's inspector general, the AP/Ventura County Star reports.
In 2006, a federal judge found that California's prison health care conditions were so poor that an average of one inmate each week died as a result of malpractice or neglect.
The finding prompted the judge to appoint J. Clark Kelso as the federal receiver to oversee medical care at California's 33 adult prisons.
Inspector General Report Findings
The report, by Inspector General David Shaw, examined 17 state prisons and found that only two met the minimum standards for health care.
The report also found that a majority of the prisons failed to meet minimum standards in four out of five categories that involved providing medical examinations, prescriptions and treatment. According to the report, the prisons performed particularly poorly in:
- Preventive care; and
- Tuberculosis treatment.
However, the 17 prisons scored above the minimum level for providing nursing care.
Spending on Prison Medical Care
Since Kelso took over as a federal receiver, annual state spending on prison medical care more than doubled from $707 million to $1.55 billion, according to California's Department of Finance.
The state has spent a total of $5.65 billion on prison medical care under Kelso, not including mental health services, dental care, transportation and other costs.
Court Rulings on Inmate Population Reductions
Three federal judges recently ruled that California's prisons must improve medical care by decreasing the prison population by about 40,000 inmates over the next two years.
The state has appealed the ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the state's appeal.
Gordon Hinkle, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the department is attempting to lower the inmate population while also protecting public safety (Thompson, AP/Ventura County Star, 8/26).
On Friday, KPCC's "KPCC News" featured a video report on the state of health care in California's prisons (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/27).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.