Apocalypse Hoosegow 7 Contagions, Taxes, and Pets Edition
For delaying action in addressing recurring outbreaks of Valley Fever in California’s prisons, Governor Jerry Brown and the California Department of Corrections were criticized this week by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in a federal court order that demands they move some 3,200 of 8,100 inmates out of Pleasant Valley and Avenal state prisons, two facilities with the highest infection and fatality rates.
Particularly affected by Valley Fever are African Americans and those with compromised immune systems. Over the last 6 years, 36 inmates who contracted the disease have died. But then, according to Henderson, California officials “clearly demonstrated their unwillingness to respond adequately to the healthcare needs of California’s inmate population.”
For a little background, check out the first and second installments of my “Apocalypse Hoosegow” series. Despite having been posted back in 2011, they require little or no updating. Too little has changed, most noticeably, the state’s let’s not be hasty approach to its moral and constitutional duty to protect the health of prisoners.
As a result, the order issued by Henderson gives the state 7 days to start the transfers and 90 days to complete them. It also takes California to task for its ongoing failure to protect ALL of its citizens from harm. The judge noted that this is “particularly ironic” given the state’s insistence that it’s now providing “a constitutional level of care.”
What Henderson doesn’t directly address is the fact that a court-ordered migration of this magnitude is a now-necessary but nonetheless huge waste of taxpayer dollars. After years of California’s attempts to incarcerate its way out of crime, every community will now face increasing financial and public health fallout from sick or infected inmates returning to seek care at the county level, further draining local funds. And what percentage of parolees return to their communities uninsured? Ninety.
Staying ahead of the problem means bringing the prison system into compliance, and some view that as cozying up to devious, liberal ideology. But ignoring the larger, frankly conservative fiscal issues here to celebrate dismissiveness and petty finger-pointing is jaw-droppingly narrow minded. There’s no excuse for letting this problem fester. If we Californians can’t come together to fix this, we should expect to find ourselves on the losing end of a lot more than federal lawsuits.
Besides, say your idiot cousin ends up in prison for his fifth DUI. Doesn’t he at least deserve a pillow that isn’t infected? Or, put another way, is the health of your pets worth risking when this drunk-with-a-bad-cough shows up at Thanksgiving?
And if that doesn’t sway you, here’s some further reading: