Sharp Hikes in Prison Spending Linked to Inmate Health Care
Health care expenditures have more than tripled over the past decade and have contributed to a 50% increase in the average annual cost per inmate in state prisons, according to a report released Wednesday by the Legislative Analyst's Office, the Sacramento Bee reports. The current average cost per inmate is $43,287 annually.
California's 33 prisons currently house 172,000 inmates, which is more than twice the designed capacity.
Brian Brown, author of the report, said the increased cost per inmate largely is due to salary raises for correctional officers and increases in inmate health costs.
Inmate health costs have tripled as a result of recent court orders by federal judges in two separate cases (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 2/1).
U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton in December bypassed state law and ordered raises for prison mental health workers. The raises will cost state taxpayers $56 million annually (California Healthline, 12/21/06).
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in December announced a prison expansion plan that includes $1 billion in funding for medical, dental and mental health facilities. The expansion complies with a ruling in a federal case in San Francisco regarding prison reform (California Healthline, 12/22/06).