Officials Seek End To Oversight of Prison Health Care in 30 Days

TOPIC ALERT:

On Monday, California prison officials filed documents in federal court seeking to end federal oversight of prison health care services in 30 days, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 5/8).

Background

About six years ago, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed J. Clark Kelso to oversee the state's prison health care system after determining that an average of one inmate per week died as a result of malpractice or neglect.

In May 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to help improve health care.

Since then, the state has begun shifting low-level offenders to county jails to address prison overcrowding and building new health facilities at prisons.

In January, Henderson said the federal receivership overseeing California's prison health care can end because the state has improved inmate care.

Last month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a plan for reorganizing the state's prisons and ending federal oversight (California Healthline, 4/24).

Details of Filing

In the court documents filed this week, CDCR attorneys said that California's prison health care system is "wholly transformed" and that inmates now receive adequate care.

They said California has the "will, capacity and leadership" to maintain the improvements and asked Henderson to end federal oversight in 30 days.

Seeking More Federal Oversight

Kelso believes federal oversight should continue for another year and a half. He said a longer federal receivership would ensure that the state upgrades prison medical facilities and reduces the inmate population by 40,000 inmates by June 2013.

Meanwhile, attorneys at the Prison Law Office said prison health care improvements should be adopted in state regulations before federal oversight ends ("KPCC News," KPCC, 5/8).


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