California Prisons Like Automatic Death Penalty

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If you’re convicted of a crime, better hope you’re not sent to a California prison. The prison health care system is so bad that one inmate dies every week.

California Prisons Like Automatic Death Penalty

On Thursday, a federal judge said an independent authority would be selected to investigate and oversee California’s penal health care system, which seems rife with neglect and maltreatment of inmate health concerns.

“We’re dealing literally with life and death,” said US District Judge Thelton Henderson referring to the nation’s largest inmate health care system as “terribly broken.”

The death rate at California prisons has led to a number of lawsuits causing more concern about impact on state revenue than convict life (or lack there of). California Youth and Adult Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman echoed that sentiment.

“The taxpayers of this state can’t afford to keep paying for repeated lawsuits that result from the same kinds of problems such as inadequate health care, poor mental health treatment and insufficient staffing,” Hickman said.

Nonprofit lawyer Alison Hardy, with Prison Law Office, took a more human approach.

“The judge has clearly recognized the ongoing risk of death and harm to patients is unconstitutional and basically horrifying,” said Hardy.

The most well known lawsuit was a class action against the state involving 10 inmates and their families. The plaintiffs alleged that state prison officials repeatedly violated inmate rights to medical care.

As evidence the action cited a paraplegic whose catheter remained unchanged for months at a time; an AIDS patient whose pain medication was repeatedly denied; and one prisoner who was refused surgery for degenerative disc disease.

Prison reform advocate, Cayene Bird of United for No Injustice Oppression or Neglect (UNION), didn’t mince any words when speaking about the issue.

“We are all sick of the bureaucratic inertia and we are sick of an inspector general that is basically useless,” she said. “We are hopeful now.”

California Prisons Like Automatic Death Penalty
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