California’s prison health care czar says he has reached a “pivotal crossroad,” with lawmakers failing to act and the state bureaucracy impeding his efforts to fix a system a federal judge found to be unconstitutional, reports the Sacramento Bee. Robert Sillen, director of the court-appointed California Prison Health Care Receivership, singled out the State Personnel Board as obstructing his reform plan. He promised to create 10,000 hospital beds for physically and mentally ill inmate patients that will require billions in state funds and upward of 130 new employees to plan.
Sillen’s plan to fix the system is likely to run at least eight months late. The receiver is threatening to seek court action to remove whatever obstacles he sees in his path. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson put the $1.5 billion prison health care system into receivership last year after finding it responsible for as many as 34 inmate deaths. Henderson appointed Sillen, former director of the Santa Clara County medical system, as receiver in February and gave him a virtual blank check on the state treasury and the power to suspend laws and contracts to reshape the system.