California inmate healthcare needs $7 billion reform: prison receiver

California inmate healthcare needs $7 billion reform: prison receiver

[JURIST] California prisons [JURIST news archive] need an influx of $7 billion to bring inmate healthcare up to constitutional standards, said court-appointed prison medical overseer J. Clark Kelso [official profile] Monday. The state senate has been unwilling to authorize a bond to borrow money for the project, so Kelso has appealed to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] to use his emergency powers to raise the needed funds. Last week, a court ruled [JURIST report] that section 8658 of the California Emergency Services Act [PDF text] granted the governor authority to address prison conditions in times of emergency. AP has more.

In January, a federal judge ruled [PDF text; JURIST report] that the healthcare provided in California prisons does not meet constitutional standards even though medical services have improved significantly since the court assumed oversight [JURIST report] of the system in 2005. Bringing the state's prison system up to constitutional standards could take as long as four years, according to officials at the California Health Care Receivership [official website]. In July 2007, the court ordered the formation of a special three-judge panel [JURIST report] to supervise and reduce California's prison population after finding that California's prison overcrowding was preventing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) [official website] from adequately providing mental health care.