Court upholds federal oversight of California's prison medical care

Mercer 2023


Correctional officers stand watch over an inmate receiving treatment in the emergency room at California State Prison, Corcoran, in Corcoran, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. A federal court-appointed receiver says the state needs to pay $8 billion to upgrade prison's medical and mental health care.

The federal receiver in charge of improving medical care in state prisons will keep his job. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the Schwarzenegger administration’s motion to terminate the federal receiver.

Five years ago, a federal judge appointed a receiver to improve California’s prison medical care after the state failed to follow court orders to do so.

The Schwarzenegger administration has since complained that the judge overstepped his authority by taking away state control of prison medical care. A lower court rejected that argument —and now, so has the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The federal receiver Clark Kelso responded to the court’s decision by urging state officials to support his multi-billion dollar plan to build a new medical hub for prisoners.

In a written statement, Kelso said it’s time for the governor, the legislature and Corrections officials to “coalesce” in support of his plan to end “unconstitutional medical conditions” in state prisons. Kelso said doing that is the fastest way to get rid of him — and return control of prison medical care to the state.

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