Latest California Healthline Stories
Executions have been on hold in California since 2006, stalled by a series of legal challenges. But COVID-19 is proving a lethal presence on San Quentin’s death row.
At $3.6 billion a year, California spends more on prison health care than other states spend to run their entire prison systems. But despite the spending, and federal court oversight, prisons across California are struggling to contain deadly outbreaks of COVID-19.
Since the start of the pandemic, prisoners and their families have contradicted state officials about the conditions inside Indiana prisons. Many inmates report they’ve had no way to protect themselves from close contact with other inmates and staff members. They believe contracting the coronavirus is inevitable.
A rural Montana county of 5,000 people lays claim to the state’s highest COVID-19 infection rate. The community risks additional spread, though, because of a private prison situated there. If the virus infiltrates the prison and just a fraction of inmates get sick, the area’s limited health resources may not endure.
As wardens across the country grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks, inmates are being released to prevent widespread contagion in overcrowded prisons.
A KHN review of dozens of inspection reports filed over the past year by the Nakamoto Group reveals disturbing patterns about the company’s audits, including a general willingness to accept accounts of the facilities that the company is paid to scrutinize, and to discount detainees’ complaints.
A survey of 49 states reveals that an estimated 144,000 inmates with hepatitis C, a curable but potentially fatal disease, can’t get the expensive drugs they need to cure it. California lawmakers allocated $106 million in the state’s new budget to treat more infected prisoners.
The use of psychiatric drugs among inmates in California’s county jails has soared 25 percent in five years. California Healthline reporter Anna Gorman discussed this phenomenon in a recent radio interview.
A combination of factors has led to an “astronomical” increase in mentally ill inmates, followed by increased efforts to identify those who need prescriptions. Some say the meds are underprescribed; others, that they are given inappropriately, without the benefit of comprehensive treatment.
The effort, overseen by the county’s health services department, aims to improve care for a population with high rates of chronic disease, mental illness and drug addiction.