Friday, April 28, 2017


by Bob Walsh

The California prison system has a problem. They are operating under a court order and a special master to vastly improve the medical care of inmates. It is, however, hard to do if no one wants to work for you and if the administrative system is incompetently run.

The State I. G. has just issued a report detailing many problems within the system in general and at New Folsom Prison (technically California State Prison, Sacramento.)

I admit I have trouble understanding it. I know why they have trouble hiring staff at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. It is in the middle of the desert in the middle of nowhere. You can see the parking lot for hell from Tower 1. New Folsom is in a major metropolitan area, the weather is decent, there is a real, modern infrastructure there like shopping, movies, massage parlors, indian casinos. Everything you need to live a civilized life.

The doctors that do work there complain incessantly of inferior working conditions. Most are actively looking for work elsewhere. Their response to emergencies is lethargic. (Remember Emergency Medical Care is a specialty. Most prison doctors write prescriptions and transport orders. They don't really practice medicine personally.)

CSP Sac is a high security institution. The inmate population are violent, dangerous assholes. It has seven positions on staff for primary care doctors. Three of those positions are vacant. This is one of the prisons that is offering a 15% bonus for medical doctors in addition to the 9% general pay raise coming this year. The current average pay for state prison doctors is about $250,000 per year. This is as a rank-and-file employee who works essentially 8-5 m-f with significant pay for working on call shifts or overtime, for which time-and-a-half is paid. I grant you that isn't a ton of money, but neither is it chump change.

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