Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

The Depressing State of California’s Prisons

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If you think your health care is bad, be glad you aren’t in prison.  Many states rely on for-profit companies to provide care, which has turned into a $2 billion a year industry.  Not surprisingly, profits tend to be more important than inmate health.  The New York Commission of Corrections found Prison Health Services (PHS)- the largest prison health care system in the country- responsible for 23 deaths between 1995 and 2005.

Even with this record, the company had 86 contracts in 28 states as of 2005, representing 1 out of every 10 inmates.  Providing prison health care is expensive, which is why it has become privatized in recent decades, yet is a cost states brought upon themselves with the massive increase of prisoners in recent decades.

California epitomizes the detrimental effects of unrestrained prison growth.  After the state passed a series of mandatory sentencing policies and ended rehabilitation programs in the late 80s and early 90s, prison spending increased exponentially: 50 percent in the last decade, totaling 10 percent of the state budget, or $8 billion a year.

Even with such immense spending, inmate health care is still atrocious; last year a federal judge ruled it constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and ordered California to spend $8 billion on new construction, more staff and renovating existing facilities.


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/27/nyregion/27jail.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&position=

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/25/opinion/25sat1.html

[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/10/AR2006061000719.html

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Written by Chris Russell

October 18, 2009 at 4:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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