Physicians who work in California prisons can receive higher compensation packages than prison doctors in other large states, Bloomberg reports.
Background on Prison Care
In 2005, a federal judge took control of the prison health care system after inmates filed class-action lawsuits alleging inadequate medical care led to cruel and unusual punishment. The court also ordered the state to hire additional staff and boost compensation packages to attract doctors.
Comparing Prison Doctors' Compensation
California prison officials said they have raised wages to recruit medical professionals and comply with federal court orders.
Data from the California State Controller's Office show that nearly 100 prison medical professionals received at least $300,000 in compensation in 2010.
According to Bloomberg, a prison physician in California can receive $248,172 annually in addition to overtime or compensation for performing extra duties, while a chief physician can receive up to $265,648 plus extra pay.
The compensation for California prison medical practitioners differs from other states. For example:
- The highest compensation for a Florida medical employee was $230,711 in fiscal year 2011, according to the state's corrections department;
- Texas officials said the most a prison doctor in the state can receive is about $220,000 annually; and
- In New York, the top compensation in the state's penal system was $200,147 in 2010, according to the state comptroller's office.
In addition, compensation by specialty differs among states. For example, prison dentists:
- In California can receive up to $288,636 annually, plus overtime and extra-duty compensation;
- In New York can receive up to $141,585; and
- In Texas can receive up to $150,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of a U.S. physician was $180,870 in 2009, compared with $191,650 in California.
In 2010, California taxpayers paid $770 million toward prisons' dental, medical and mental health care.
In the current fiscal year, the state is projected to spend $9.8 billion on prisons and parole, up by $224 million from last year, according to Bloomberg. The state spent a record $10.1 billion in FY 2008 (Marois, Bloomberg, 8/23).