A federal judge scolded California officials for failing to provide the billions of dollars a court-appointed receiver says is needed to upgrade the prison health care system, reports the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco said he expects California to pay $8 billion for seven new inmate medical facilities. Medical care in California’s prisons has been ruled unconstitutional. Henderson appointed a receiver to run the system after finding that an average of an inmate a week was dying from neglect or malpractice.
The judge says he is likely to order the state to pay $250 million as a first installment to demonstrate good faith. The judge suspects that “nothing more than political intermeddling” is blocking the state from paying the money. He criticized the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for its “11th hour change of heart” in opposing prison health care facilities it had supported until recently. Henderson said it is no excuse that the state legislature balked repeatedly at approving a borrowing plan that would have spread payments for the $8 billion over 25 years. “They’re not even starting, they’re not even on the road where I want to go,” Henderson said.