20% of CA Prison Drug Funds for Anti-Psychotics; Are Inmates Overmedicated?


Under federal court oversight, California’s prison mental health system has been spending far more on anti-psychotic drugs than other states with large prison systems, raising questions on whether patients are receiving proper treatment, reports the Associated Press. While the amount has been decreasing in recent years, anti-psychotics still account for nearly $1 of every $5 spent on pharmaceuticals purchased for state prisons. Questions about the spending have been raised by the state budget analyst and by the court-appointed authority in charge of buying prison pharmaceuticals, who concluded that California’s inmate mental health professionals appear to overmedicate their patients. A former top prison mental health administrator acknowledged that fear of lawsuits often drove the decisions about inmates’ treatment. “Why are all these people on meds? A lot of it, I think, we overprescribe on mental health. Anybody who comes in on mental health (referrals), we put on a psychotropic,” said J. Clark Kelso, the federal court-appointed receiver who controls prison medical care.

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