State Audit Finds ‘Serious Problems’ with Women’s Medical Care at Ventura County Youth Correctional Facility
A state audit released last week found "serious problems" with the medical care provided for the 278 female inmates at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, the Ventura County Star reports (Sullivan, Ventura County Star, 7/17). The audit, conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, found that the "facility is weeks late in evaluating the mental health" of female inmates and "jeopardizes" their health, as well as the health of children born to them in the facility. As a result, the audit recommends that the facility, which houses male and female inmates, incarcerate only female inmates or close (Kelley, Los Angeles Times, 7/15). The medical staff at the facility includes two physicians, two psychiatrists, 19 nurses, one dentist and dental assistant, 10 psychologists, one pharmacist and two hospital aides. Jerry Harper, director of the California Youth Authority, which manages the facility, said that "he was caught off guard" by some of the problems identified in the audit. "We believed that we had been working on some of the women's issues ... with regard to medical and mental care," he said.
In response to the audit, attorneys have filed a number of class-action lawsuits against CYA on behalf of inmates. The cases cite problems such as the failure to transport inmates to health clinics and the failure to provide "necessary medical care," the Star reports. Richard Ulmer, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which has filed suit against CYA on behalf of an inmate who had untreated tonsillitis, said, "We are not seeking any money, but what we seek is a court order that CYA be ordered to be brought up to constitutional standards" (Ventura County Star, 7/17).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.