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March 3, 2011

The high costs created by very sick prisoners in California

The Los Angeles Times has this interesting report, headlined "Despite medical parole law, hospitalized prisoners are costing California taxpayers millions," highlighting the high health-care costs for an especially sick portion of the California prison population.   Here are excerpts:

A degenerative nerve disease has left 57-year-old California inmate Edward Ortiz semi-paralyzed in a private Bay Area hospital for the last year. The breathing tube in his throat tethers him to a ventilator at one end of the bed; steel bracelets shackle his ankles to safety rails at the other.

Still, California taxpayers are shelling out roughly $800,000 a year to prevent his escape. The guards watching Ortiz one day last week said department policy requires one corrections officer at the foot of his bed around the clock and another guard at the door.  A sergeant also has to be there, to supervise.  "Some of this is ridiculous, but you can't argue with policy," said Corrections Officer Allan Roper as he stared down at the unconscious Ortiz, a convicted child molester who requires medical attention beyond the prison system's capabilities.

Authorities have identified 25 "permanently medically incapacitated" inmates being treated at outside hospitals who are candidates for parole because they no longer pose a threat to the public.  Californians will pay more than $50 million to treat them this year, between $19 million and $21 million of that for guards' salaries, benefits and overtime, according to data from the federal receiver who oversees California prison healthcare.  The final amount will depend on how many of the guards are paid overtime.

In September, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a "medical parole" law designed to spare taxpayers the cost of guarding inmates like Ortiz and dozens of others who officials say are incapacitated. Some are in comas, others paraplegic.  If the prisoners were released from custody, the medical costs would shift to their families if they could afford to pay, or to other government programs if they could not.  The expense of guarding the patients would be eliminated.

But the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has yet to schedule a parole hearing for even one such inmate.  "It's maddening," said State Sen. Mark Leno (D- San Francisco), who sponsored the bill that Schwarzenegger signed.  "We have school districts on the verge of closing" because of the state's budget crisis.  "We don't have millions of dollars to squander on this kind of nonsense."

Terri McDonald, chief deputy secretary of adult operations for California prisons, said her department had been working with the receiver, appointed in 2005 after a federal court found that healthcare in the state's prisons was tantamount to "cruel and unusual" punishment, to draft regulations to implement the new law.  Despite those efforts, McDonald would not predict when the first sick inmate might get a parole hearing.  "These are complex public-safety regulations," she said.

Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for receiver J. Clark Kelso, said Kelso is "anxious to have these regulations in place so we can maximize savings."  Leno said he introduced the medical parole law to address concerns about the existing statute that allows "compassionate release" of prisoners who are permanently incapacitated or terminally ill with less than six months' life expectancy.

Compassionate release has the same legal effect as completion of a prison sentence, meaning the former inmate can't be sent back to prison unless he is convicted of another crime.

Opponents of that system pointed to the notorious case of the Lockerbie bomber, the Libyan terrorist who blew up a Pan Am flight in 1988, killing 270, but was released from a Scottish prison in 2009 when doctors thought prostate cancer would kill him in less than three months.  He was still alive a few days ago, according to published reports.   An inmate freed on medical parole in California, however, would be sent back to prison if his physical condition improved enough that he could pose a reasonable threat to public safety.

Partly because of the concern that an inmate could cheat justice by outliving a prison doctor's prognosis, the odds have not favored inmates petitioning for compassionate release.  Seventy percent of the 1,157 prisoners determined by doctors to qualify between 1991 and 2010 were rejected for compassionate release, often because top prison administrators or sentencing judges believed they could still pose a threat.

Although some able-bodied inmates have tried to escape while on outside medical appointments, corrections department officials could not cite any who had succeeded. Reducing the guard on such patients, even the most incapacitated, invites risk, said prison spokesman Oscar Hidalgo.  "And we are not in the business of taking risks with public safety," Hidalgo said.

March 3, 2011 at 08:30 PM | Permalink

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Comments

No such costs or dilemnas in 123D. They would have all been gone before their 18th birthdays, and the peaks of their crime careers. Instead, long gone crime victims would be facing the health problems of old age. The lawyer loves evil, protects evil, preserves evil for as long as possible.

Why do that? Government is a wholly owned and managed subsidiary of the criminal cult enterprise that is the lawyer profession. And evil grows government. The attrition of evil shrinks it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 3, 2011 11:00:22 PM

SC:

"And evil grows government." You moron, government grows evil!

You know, you would be much more credible if everybody accused and prosecuted for a crime, actually harmed some one (except for the government trying to prosecute them), i.e., obstruction of justice, unlawful arrest, lying to a federal agent (not under oath), the list keeps growing exponentially) and these really cause harm.

The government causes more harm than many of the supposed defendent's crimes with these laws! And now we have no money (wealth) to continue the absurdity.

I breathe, and believe platitudes, therefore, I am.

Posted by: albeed | Mar 3, 2011 11:27:40 PM

Al: Those are not real crimes. There is actually a moral duty to lie to the government since it is a subsidiary of a criminal syndicate, the law profession. They are made up pretexts to seize the assets of productive males. They grow government by funding it, and are evil. There is actually an infinity of those. I have proposed moving for e-discovery on the prosecutor as standard of due care in every defense, for improper motive, and the same on the judge for conflict of interest and bias. No defense lawyer has done that. None finds it in any way acceptable, because they their job to the prosecution and not to the fungible client.

I believe I am quite ahead of you in correctly grasping our being in The Inquisition 2.0, its business plan, and the remedies (lawful is a motion for discovery, unlawful but fully justified? Lethal boycotts and violent self-help, and street justice - just beat their asses). "You have blasphemed by eating meat on Friday. You are going to the stake. We might accept a plea bargain, forfeiting your estates to the Church and avoiding the stake." Meanwhile, the eating of meat on Friday was enacted as a rule after the fishing industry lobbied the Church to help promote fish sales. It is a made up rule with no harm addressed. The fishermen and the Church are both engaging in rent seeking, a synonym for armed robbery, fully justifying violent self-defense.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 4, 2011 3:30:33 AM

Personal invectives make the utterer seem frustrated in the traverse.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 4, 2011 3:51:51 AM

SC:

I apologize for doubting you. You have taught me that this is a "what came first, the chicken or the egg" situation with the noble expectations that educated and wise people could control their own human nature.

Obviously, they cannot.

Thanks

Posted by: albeed | Mar 4, 2011 9:24:53 PM

I made concrete suggestion of moving for total e-discovery of the prosecutors' personal and work computer to search for an improper motive. This should be a standard of due care. Defense attorneys find that outrageous. Reason? Their jobs come from the prosecutor not from the client. The innocent defendant is basically alone in court, with the jury as the only friend.

Self-defense against a vicious, powerful criminal syndicate plundering and destroying our nation has good moral and intellectual justification. As the lawyer is pitiless on our nation, so should the remedies against the lawyer become. Once the lawyer is stopped, and prohibited from all benches, all legislative seats, and policy positions in the executive, all social problems end in a day, including the elimination of 90% of crime. Our economic growth goes to a more natural 10% a year, ending our money problems. The American family can be restored, and the consequences of massive rates of bastardy evaporate. Inner city property values jump 40% as all violent criminals are executed. Our education achievements rise to the top of the international comparison lists. The Supreme Court is impeached en masse, including the conservatives. To deter. They are all the same, legal realists in insurrection against the constitution's Article I Section 1. It does not matter who replaces them. Take puking bums from skid row, they would represent an upgrade in common sense and clarity in decision drafting.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 5, 2011 4:31:05 AM

All medical procedures should be pre-certified by the ordering doctor to likely result in life extension outside the health facility. If a doctor is mistaken 3 times, he should automatically be fired. Many treatments are painful. If futile, the pain represents cruel and unusual punishment. Such procedures would be for medical rent seeking (dwarfs lawyer rent seeking, by the way), justifying the firing of the offending doctor.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 8, 2011 4:37:03 AM

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