Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is 10,000 beds excessive?

Readers interested in the prison health care crisis should take a look at a fascinating article in today's Sacramento Bee. The article offers a detailed look at work of the Federal Receiver, and it's not entirely laudatory. For example, the article raises questions about Clark Kelso's plans to build 10,000 long-term medical and mental health beds. That number, the article suggests, is widely out of line with what other prison systems offer on a per inmate basis. Whether you agree with the article's conclusions or not, the piece warrants a close read.

On a related point: The Sacramento Bee deserves to be commended for its coverage of the prison health care crisis. It seems to be one of the only papers today paying any significant attention to the issue (SF Chronicle, where are you?).

2 comments:

Hadar Aviram said...

Agreed re: the Sac Bee. I think not many newspapers understand that corrections-related news are important not only for those "in the know" but for anyone who pays taxes in CA.

Joe Power said...

One way the state could increase the number of prison hospital beds by about 1400 and save money at the same time is to convert Coalinga State Hospital. Right now it is nothing more than a warehouse for sex offenders who have long since finished their sentences. The vast majority, for a variety of reasons, refuse to participate in the state's "treatment" program and, contrary to the misinformation spread by politicians, sex offenders have a LOW recidivism rate. The state can't retain qualified psych staff even when paying far more than for comparable positions elsewhere (and even though it has no problem keeping doctors at the nearby prison.) As a mental hospital CSH is a flop, as a prison hospital it would take a lot of pressure off the system. We've already spent over $400 Million on it. Maybe it is time we got our money's worth.