Of inmates and health care

Feds may withdraw oversight of state prison health care system

After nearly a decade of federal supervision, a judge recently indicated that oversight of California’s prison health care system may transition back to the state.

In 2006, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson placed the system under federal oversight after determining an average of one inmate per week died of malpractice or neglect, constituting cruel and unusual punishment, according to California Healthline. Over the last decade, California has taken several major steps to address the issues, including spending $2 billion on new facilities and doubling its annual budget for prison health care to roughly $1.7 billion.

A report by a court-appointed federal receiver found that the prison health system is now adequately staffed and has an oversight system, but that it could improve in several areas including record-keeping and providing more on-site care rather than sending inmates to outside hospitals.

On March 10, Henderson outlined a transition plan, which requires that all 34 state prisons pass an inspection by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.