The Sacramento Bee explains why California prison medical receiver J. Clark Kelso’s needs $8 billion more for inmate care: That’s how much Kelso says it will cost to build seven, 1,500-bed long-term care facilities he says are necessary to bring California prison medical care into constitutional compliance. He also wants to upgrade medical, dental, and mental health units and improve disability access in all 33 state prisons.
Correctional officers who transport inmates to medical appointments and protect health care workers don’t come cheap in California. Their top-scale basic pay is $73,000 a year. Hw’d we get into this mess?, the Bee asks. Prison growth exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, mostly as a result of tougher sentencing laws passed by lawmakers responding to the public’s fear of crime. “The rapid growth outstripped the state corrections agency’s ability to provide medical, mental health, rehabilitative and other services to inmates, who in turn were mostly warehoused. Inmate-rights lawyers filed and won class-action lawsuits – sometimes with little opposition – covering medical, mental health and other issues, and the rest is history.”