The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

January 28, 2009
Jerry Brown: More delay on dealing with aging, sick prisoners

In a Sunday editorial, "Brown blocks the way on prison health," the SacBee editorial board posed a question to Attorney General Jerry Brown and other California officials: "If you don't like [Federal Prison Health Receiver J. Clark] Kelso's plan or don't want a federal court-imposed solution, where's your plan?

Well, now Brown has a plan.  Sort of.

He has filed a motion in federal district court in San Francisco to end the federal takeover of California's prison health system. He wants the court to return the prison health care system to the state and simply appoint a Special Master to evaluate the state's compliance with federal constitutional standards. Blah, blah, blah. Been there, done that. 

Brown also wants the court to terminate the receiver's proposed plan to construct facilities to house 10,000 chronically ill, physically impaired, feeble prisoners.

Surely, Brown must know that U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson only took the drastic step of putting the federal receivership in place precisely because the state was making no progress on its own.

Does Brown really believe that Judge Henderson would clip the wings of the only entity that has a 3-4 year plan -- and deadlines for a return to the state -- only to replace it  with a Special Master with little authority to achieve results? This would drag things out for another 10, 15 or 20 more years. 

 The fact is, neither the Attorney General nor the Governor's Office has been willing to sit down with J. Clark Kelso, the federally appointed receiver, to figure out ways to reduce prison medical care construction costs or provide an alternative that reduces the population of older, chronically ill, physically impaired, feeble prisoners.


 Now that might get us somewhere, unlike this latest delaying tactic.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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