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January 19, 2012

Feds finally set to stop overseeing health care in California prisons

As reported in this Los Angeles Times article, headlined "Federal oversight of state prison healthcare to end," it appears that the federal judiciary may be finally done keeping an eye on prison healthcare in California. Here are the details:

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton E. Henderson said Tuesday that healthcare in state lockups has improved significantly since he seized control of the system, a move that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. "While some critical work remains outstanding — most notably on construction issues — it is clear that many of the goals of the receivership have been accomplished," Henderson wrote in a three-page order.

State officials were rebuffed when they sought to end the receivership in 2009. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown applauded the judge's decision. "We have been working very hard to clean up the mess in the prisons and I appreciate the judicial recognition of our efforts," the governor said in a statement.

Henderson directed state officials, receiver J. Clark Kelso and an inmate advocacy group that sued the state over prison conditions to meet and file a report by April 30, spelling out how to go forward. The parties will have to determine how progress will be measured, sustained and monitored, according to Henderson's order.

Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said in a statement that "the department is ready and willing to start planning for the end of federal oversight of prison medical care."

Donald Specter, director of the Prison Law Office, the inmate advocacy group, warned that progress could be fleeting. "I'm very worried about the state backsliding, especially in times when money is tight," he said. Specter pointed to a court case involving San Quentin Correctional Facility in the 1980s. Medical conditions eventually improved, he said, but problems arose again after the case was dismissed.

January 19, 2012 at 06:51 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I'm so glad that the government pay some attention to those prisoners who suffers illness due to crowded prison cells.

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