The federal receiver assigned to fix health care in California prisons says the system is far worse than he thought, with nearly every piece either not working or in an “abject state of disrepair,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Receiver Bob Sillen said a federal judge probably will need to step in and suspend state laws, contracts, and regulations that are hindering progress. He launched a turnaround project at San Quentin, vowing to bring improved inmate care and a sense of hope to the prison’s “clinical trenches” within 90 days.
Of the 33 state prisons, the decrepit lockup north of San Francisco has received the most attention, with experts finding widespread evidence of malpractice and neglect – and proof that inmates suffered not just from incompetence but also from cruelty at the hands of some doctors. The prison, Sillen said, is an ideal laboratory to test possible remedies that could lift health care throughout the prison system to constitutional standards. “If we can do it there,” he said, “we can do it anywhere.” Over the last two months, Sillen has visited five prisons and met with dozens of doctors, union leaders, guards, wardens, and inmates. He also talked with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.