California officials ask judge to end prison medical oversight in a month

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.

California officials want a federal judge to end oversight of prison medical care in 30 days. That’s the thrust of documents filed late Monday in the court of a federal judge who seized control of state prison healthcare nearly a decade ago because one inmate a week was dying of shoddy care.

In a 43-page plan to end federal oversight, Corrections attorneys argued that healthcare is “wholly transformed,” that inmates get good care, from good doctors, in good clinics and that California’s got the “will, capacity, and leadership” to keep it up. They’ve asked U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to relinquish control in 30 days.

But the receiver appointed to improve state prison healthcare thinks oversight should last another year and a half. Receiver Clark Kelso says that’s to ensure the state upgrades medical facilities and complies with a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 inmates by June 2013.

Corrections recently unveiled a plan that would stop short of that number to save money. Attorneys at the Prison Law Office say the plan “intentionally flouts” the court's reduction order and casts doubt on California’s commitment “to ensure the receiver’s hard-won improvements to healthcare do not evaporate.”

They want to see medical improvements adopted in state regulations before the court bows out.

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