After six years of working with a federal Receiver to rebuild the state’s prison health- care system, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is now reclaiming responsibility for health-care access and building and running new facilities.
“Our department has worked closely with the Receiver’s Office to bring prison medical care into compliance with the U.S. Constitution, and we are ready to assume full management and control of prison health care in the months to come,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “Today’s agreements are an important step toward ending the costly class-action lawsuit that led to federal control of prison health care.”
Today’s agreements return two important health care responsibilities to CDCR. First, the department will now run the health-care access units that ensure care is available to inmates.
Second, CDCR will also run all new and remodeled health-care facilities, including the new center in Stockton. The next step is for CDCR and the Receiver to continue working to delegate the remaining health-care functions back to the state including the provision of care.
California’s prison health-care system has continued to improve in recent years.
Some of these improvements include: redesigned primary care at all 33 adult institutions, gains in the number and quality of health-care staff, new quality control procedures, and better use of technology including electronic health records. California has also launched multiple construction and renovation projects including a new, 1,722-bed facility in Stockton.
A string of class-action lawsuits dating back to 1990 resulted in varying levels of federal oversight of health care in California prisons. In 2006, Judge Thelton E. Henderson appointed a federal Receiver with full authority over prison medical care. Since then California has made significant improvements. In August 2012, an ongoing class-action lawsuit over dental care, Perez v. Cate, was dismissed by the federal court. In September 2012, the court ordered a process to end the federal receivership and return management and day-to-day control over medical services to the State.