State Weighs Whether Prison Health Facility Plans Should Continue
As the state continues construction projects to relieve prison overcrowding and improve health care for inmates, questions remain as to whether Gov. Jerry Brown (D) should allow the projects to move forward, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14).
Five years ago, a federal judge ruled thatÂ poor prison health care in California was leading to about 50 inmate deaths annually. A panel of three judges appointed a receiver to oversee health care and ordered the state to reduce its prison population.
Details of the Construction
California is moving forward with 13 medical and mental health constructionÂ projects for inmates. Prison officials have said the projects will help the state comply with court orders.
The projects are being funded through $7.4 billion in lease revenue bonds for the construction or expansion of prisons, jails and re-entry centers, as authorized by a bill (AB 900) that was signed into law in May 2007.
Questioning the Projects
Emily Harris of Californians United for a Responsible Budget said it would be a "failed opportunity" if the state just builds more beds instead of adjusting policies.
Meanwhile, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office recently released a report saying the facilities being built might not be needed because the state plans to move some prison inmates to county jails to reduce prison overcrowding.
Supporting the Projects
Deborah Hysen -- deputy director of planning, construction and management at the prison agency -- said officials considered what projects were needed,Â given the budgetary challenges California faces.
State officials said the construction projects under AB 900 constantly have been readjusted to sync with new policies, including the realignment plan to send low-level-offense prisoners to county jails (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/14).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.