The head of California’s Corrections and Rehabilitation Department said a brand-new $840 million medical center is proof that federal judges are wrong about health care in the state’s crowded prison system.
Dedicating the California Health Care Facility in Stockton Tuesday morning, Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard said the 1,700-bed complex will provide state-of-the-art care for California’s sickest inmates. “Yet the federal courts question California’s commitment to providing quality care to inmates,” Beard told a 200-person audience. “I ask you this: Does what you see behind me today – is that deliberate indifference?”
The dedication comes less than a week after a panel of federal judges issued its latest order demanding California release 9,600 prisoners by the end of the year in order to comply with a mandatory population cap.
The 51-page ruling read like an exasperated rebuke. The judges wrote the Brown administration has “directly defied this court’s orders,” used “tortured logic” to argue against their rulings,” and shown “repeated failure” to comply. That’s because the panel of judges has been ordering California to reduce its prison population to under 110,000 since 2009. The judges say the health care in the overcrowded prisons is so poor it violates the Constitution.
California’s most recent compliance plan falls more than 4,000 inmates short of achieving that goal by the court’s Dec. 31 deadline.