Welcome to California Prison Health Care Services

Frequently Asked Questions

The effort to remediate California's prison medical care system is complex and multi-dimensional and must be flexible to respond as crises erupt and new information comes to light. Because of that, activities and time frames often must be adjusted. The Frequently Asked Questions and answers listed here reflect the most current accurate information. We will continue to update both the questions and answers over time, so please check back regularly.

What is CPR's Mission?

The mission of the California Prison Health Care Receivership Corp. is to raise to constitutional standards the level of medical care delivered to adult inmate patients incarcerated in California prisons. Acting on the authority of the federal court, CPR will make the structural, clinical, budgetary and organizational changes necessary to create a safe and secure clinical environment in which custody and medical staff together can guarantee that quality of and access to care in California's adult prisons is constitutionally adequate. Once achieved, CPR will work to transition the prison medical care system back to the State for future maintenance at constitutional levels.

Who oversees the Receiver's activities?

The Receiver reports directly to federal Judge Thelton E. Henderson, of the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Judge Henderson presides over the Plata v. Schwarzenegger case in which medical care in California's adult prisons was found to be unconstitutional. After the State failed to make court-ordered corrections, Henderson put the system into Receivership.

The Receiver may request that the Judge issue court orders or waive state laws in order to remediate the problems in the prison medical care system effectively and create a new, constitutional structure for medical care delivery. These powers are spelled out in the February 14 2006 Order Appointing the Receiver, which is available on this web site in the Court Materials section.

How long will the Receivership last?

There is no predetermined timeframe for the Receivership. There is also no model, as this Receivership is unprecedented in size and scope nationwide. The Receiver's job will be complete when medical care in California state prisons reaches constitutional standards, and the State is equipped to resume control and maintain that level of care. It may take five to 10 years to get the system up to constitutional muster, and an equal or greater amount of time until it can be reliably turned back over to the state, without fear of an immediate back slide.

How can I get up to date information about the Receivership?

The Receiver is required to submit regular progress reports to Judge Henderson every quarter. These are public documents that are available on this web site (in the Court Materials section), as well as directly through the U.S. District Court for Northern California. Visit the Receiver's web site often to read those court reports and other public information, such as press releases and updates on various projects.

What areas of prison operations are now under the Receiver's jurisdiction?

The Receiver is the executive manager of medical care in California state prisons. That means that everyone who works for the CDCR Division of Correctional Health Care Services (medical) including the physicians, nurses and other medical staff at the headquarters and institution level, now work for the Receiver. The Secretary of CDCR no longer has jurisdiction over medical care services in the state's 33 adult prisons.

What areas of prison operations are not under the Receiver's jurisdiction?

The Receiver's mandate does not extend to mental health, dental, substance abuse and treatment or juvenile health in California prisons.

What is the relationship between the federal oversight of medical, mental health and dental services?

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton E. Henderson appointed J. Clark Kelso as Receiver to direct operations and oversee improvements in prison medical services in the federal court case Plata v. Schwarzenegger.

Mental health services are the subject of a separate federal class action law suit (Coleman v. Schwarzenegger). In that case, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton has appointed a Special Master to oversee remedial efforts.

Dental services are the subject of another federal class action law suit (Perez v. Tilton), which is presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White.

The three judges issued an order in January 2007 (available in the Court Materials section of this web site) instructing the representatives of the three cases (the Receiver in Plata, the Special Master in Coleman and the Court Representative in Perez) to coordinate their remedial activities through formal monthly meetings. The purpose of the coordination is to ensure that the three efforts would be complimentary and each would be well informed of the other's actions, thus reducing unnecessary duplication and waste of taxpayer money.

Since then, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken, who presides over another federal class action law suit (Armstrong v. Schwarzenegger) also has joined the coordination efforts. This case addresses the rights of disabled inmates under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Though they remain separate cases, there are many issues which apply to medical, mental health, disabled and dental services as part of an overall health care system. The participants have agreed that the Receiver will take the lead in managing the remedial activity for many areas that the cases have in common, such as pharmacy, medical records, information technology and health services contracting. In these areas, the Coleman Special Master and the Perez and Armstrong Court Representatives will continue to provide expertise related to their respective fields. The four Judges meet quarterly to facilitate the coordination of the remedial processes for prison medical, mental health, disabled and dental care.

The following table summarizes the current federal court oversight of prison health care.

Will the Receiver address individual staff or inmate patient problems?

The Receivership was created to direct and support change and to provide leadership to solve the systemic problems of the State of California's prison medical care system. Information about staff and patient issues within that system can be valuable in expanding CPR's understanding of the situation and help in setting priorities for systemic change. Generally, the Receiver will not intervene in individual staff disputes. All patient correspondence is carefully reviewed and responded to. Some patient-care issues brought to the Receiver's attention may prompt clinical investigation and action. These are handled on a case by case basis. All information provided to us is considered in implementing systemic improvements.

Inmate Patients and their families may contact the Receiver about specific medical issues by writing:

J. Clark Kelso, Receiver
Controlled Correspondence Unit
P.O. Box 588500
Elk Grove, CA 95758

Email: CPHCSCCUWeb@cdcr.ca.gov


Telephone: (916) 691-1404

How can I contact the Receiver?

All other correspondence may be sent to:

J. Clark Kelso, Receiver
California Prison Health Care Receivership
P.O. Box 588500
Elk Grove, CA 95758