Judge Suggests Gradual Plan For California to Regain Prison Control


A federal judge proposed a plan to relinquish control of California's prison medical care after nearly seven years, reports KPCC Radio. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson seized control of the system because one inmate a week was dying from inadequate treatment. Henderson appointed a federal receiver to improve conditions, which the receiver did. Henderson says he wants state officials to prove they can implement and sustain the receiver’s changes before he lets go of the system.

Prison officials had argued they're ready to resume control of health care within a month, but Henderson said he sees “no sufficient evidence” to back up that claim. Instead, the judge wants a gradual transition of authority from the federal court to the state. Henderson has proposed that the receiver return control of the health care system one piece at a time. He has already returned provisional control over the escorts who take prisoners to their appointments, and future steps would include returning control over hiring staff, managing medicines and, ultimately, the prison budget. How well prison officials handle each step will determine how quickly the rest of the transition goes. “If someone's been found to be guilty of neglect and malfeasance, for decades, you don't just say 'OK we trust you. Go for it!'” says Don Spector of the Prison Law Office. Spector sued on behalf of inmates who did not receive timely care. He likes Judge Henderson's plan.

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