The pharmacies in California prisons are so dangerous to inmates’ health that they must be placed under private management, the federal receiver in charge of prison health care told a judge yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson seemed ready to take that a step and welcomed a proposal that he double the pay of prison pharmacists and dramatically increase salaries for other prison health employees. “It is time for action, and action you will take,” Henderson told Robert Sillen, the receiver. Sillen is calling on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators to build hospitals for inmates, instead of the two new prisons the governor has proposed to ease severe overcrowding. “Why spend the money twice?” asked Sillen.
A spokesman said the governor welcomed the chance to talk as a special legislative session he called on corrections, scheduled for next month, approaches. Auditors found that California pays four times more for pharmaceuticals than two equivalent correctional systems: Texas and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. That means California prison drug costs were as much as $80 million higher last year than at those systems.