Unprepared for prison oversight

Federal official says California not ready to oversee prison health

Following a tour of two-thirds of California’s prisons, a federal official has deemed the state unprepared to reassume oversight of its prison health-care system.

In a report filed with the U.S. District Court, Special Master Matthew Lopes said Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent request for the federal government to drop its mandate requiring California to reduce prison populations and allow the state to regain oversight is “not only premature, but a needless distraction from the important work that is being done in the [state’s] quality-improvement project,” according to The New York Times.

Lopes said federal oversight is necessary for several reasons—at least 32 inmates committed suicide in 2012; prisons had various lapses in care; and in several instances, inmates with mental illnesses were put in isolation for long periods of time rather than given treatment. He also found that all 11 outpatient health-care facilities in the prison system conduct inmate counseling sessions in public rather than confidential settings.

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