Although California has funneled billions of dollars into its corrections system, the quality of medical care in more than two-thirds of state prisons remains sub-par, according to a report by the state Office of the Inspector General, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports.
In 2006, a federal judge determined that insufficient medical care was contributing to the death of an average of one inmate per week. The court then appointed a federal receiver to take control of California's prison health services.
Since the court ruling, the federal receiver has increased salaries, hired additional staff and taken steps to improve prison health care facilities. J. Clark Kelso currently serves as the federal receiver.
The new report -- by acting Inspector General Bruce Monfross's office -- graded prisons on five general health care categories and 20 other factors using criteria developed by the prison medical receiver. The report is the first to survey all 33 state prisons.
The review found that nine of California's prisons met minimum health care standards, meaning that they received a score of 75% or higher.
Of the 24 prisons that fell below the 75% rating, half received scores higher than 70%.
The report also found that:
- 30 prisons failed to ensure that inmates received their medications;
- Only six prisons performed adequately in providing inmates with swift medical care; and
- Overall, California's prisons had "alarmingly" low scores for treating tuberculosis.
According to Kelso, the receivership had taken on "tremendous efforts and ongoing improvements." He said his office is "committed to reform[ing] the California prison medical care system utilizing best practices in the most cost effective manner" (Thompson, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 5/4).
On Wednesday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the review of California's prison health care system (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 5/4).