State officials may be relieved that populations of previously over-crowded California prisons are dropping as a result of a 2011 diversion program that redirects non-violent criminals to county wards, but they now have a potential medical care problem to solve. Federal receiver Clark Kelso, who was put in charge of the prison medical system by a federal judge after California was deemed to be neglecting prisoners, maintains that the state has not allocated enough funds needed to sufficiently upgrade prison medical care facilities. The state insists no logistical crises remain because there are fewer inmates to take care of, but Kelso said the drop in population won’t solve the problem because the current inmates will only get sicker as they age. Kelso will not hand over control of the prisons to the state until he is satisfied that it can sustain improvements and finish building a billion dollar prison hospital in Stockton. Kelso remains critical of lawmakers who refuse to release funds for expensive projects.
How much money should be spent on prison medical care in light of California’s financial problems? Should state officials be refusing to spend money on prison medical hubs?
Julie Small, KPCC’s state capitol reporter