Two States and Two Disturbing Stories of Inmate Health Care
Date:  05-01-2013

California and Oklahoma facing court action
Prison Reform Movement has posted two articles on its website that beg attention. The first article, originally posted in SFGate, describes the order by the federal agency that oversees California inmate health care for the state to immediately release over 8,000 inmates from two prisons due to an outbreak of the deadly disease Coccidioidomycosis, more commonly known as Valley Fever. The Center for Disease Control website reports that the disease is “ infection caused by the fungus Coccidioides, which lives in the soil of dry, low rainfall areas. People can get the disease by breathing in the Coccidioides spores from the air, especially after a soil disturbance.” The fungus, according to the CDC is mostly found in southwestern America, Mexico and Central America. African-Americans, Filipinos, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to the disease, the CDC claims. Click here to go to website .

On April 16 Reentry Central posted an article that reported California Governor Jerry Brown is subject to contempt charges if he does not reduce the overcrowded prison conditions in his state as ordered by the Court. The new order to release forty percent of inmates from the two prisons effected by the outbreak of Coccidioidomycosis has thrown California correctional officials into a frantic effort to comply with that order while facing another Court order to release an additional 9,000 more from other overcrowded prisons where inmates are not getting adequate medical care, including treatment for mental health issues. SFGate reports that in the past seven years Coccidioidomycosis was a contributing factor in 43 inmate deaths. Click here to go to website.

In Oklahoma a sheriff is under fire for allegedly releasing and abandoning inmates with medical problems so as not to be responsible for the medical expenses of certain ailing inmates.. NewsOK reports that Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel is accused of “unlawful abandonment of patients.” Inmate health care eats up a huge portion of corrections budgets, but OKNews writes that attorneys for one of the hospitals used as a dumping ground by Sheriff Whetsel claim “The county and the sheriff have developed a practice of ... purporting to ‘release' inmates from custody before, and even after transporting them to the hospital, and then deny liability for the necessary medical care by saying the inmate is no longer in the county's custody.”

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