News Releases

CDCR Asks Federal Judge to Return Health Care to California Control

In court filing, CDCR says prison health system now satisfies the Constitution and calls for prompt end to Receivership
Sacramento – 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) says it’s time to bring medical care back under State control.
In a court filing, CDCR says the state prison system has the “will, capacity, and leadership to maintain a sustainable system of providing constitutionally adequate medical health care.” The filing is a joint report by CDCR, the Receiver and Plaintiffs’ Counsel and it lays out their respective positions on when and how to end the Receivership.
CDCR cited numerous examples of improvements to California’s prison health care system: the re-design of primary care at all 33 adult institutions; significant improvement in the number and quality of health care staff; the establishment of quality control procedures; better use of technology, including electronic health records; and construction and renovation projects across the system, including a 1,722-bed facility being built in Stockton. 
In the court filing, CDCR also notes the favorable assessment of the Office of the Inspector General which reviews the state’s prison health care system.
CDCR asked Judge Thelton Henderson to order the end of the Receivership within 30 days. The Department suggested that the Receiver be replaced for one year by a Special Master who would monitor progress on projects underway.
A string of class-action lawsuits dating back to 1990 resulted in varying levels of federal oversight of health care in California prisons. The case involving medical health care is called Plata v. Brown. In 2006, Judge Henderson appointed a Receiver with full authority over prison medical care. The Receiver was empowered to spend whatever he deemed necessary to bring California prison health care up to a Constitutional level.
On January 17, citing “significant progress,” Judge Henderson ruled that “the end of the Receivership appears to be in sight.” He ordered the parties in the Platacase to start planning for the return of health care authority to CDCR and to report back by April 30 (later extended to May 7).
A copy of that report to Judge Henderson can be found at For more context on CDCR’s overall plans, read “The Future of California Corrections”, also at Both documents include more information about the improvements already made to California’s prison health care system.
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May 8, 2012

Contact: Jeffrey Callison
(916) 445-4950