Most medical service contracts for treatment of California inmates are awarded without competitive bids, resulting in millions of dollars in unnecessary costs, concludes a new state audit. “Flawed” contract negotiations with private hospitals, specialty-care physicians and laboratories are driving up expenses, auditors said, according to the Sacramento Bee. Contract costs have increased 15 percent in each of the last four fiscal years, rising to $239 million in 2002-03.
The audit is the latest in a series of critical reports by the legislature and other agencies aimed at the state’s $5.7 billion correctional system, alleging brutality at the California Youth Authority, a failing parole system, perennial budget overruns, and a code of silence among guards that shields wrongdoers. Inmate health care costs account for about 20 percent of the Corrections Department’s expenditures.