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Receiver or Thief?

by Mytheos Holt, published

Well, so much for the idea that bureaucracy should be accountable.

The decision on California's attempt to reinstate control over its own prison system is back, and from the looks of it, we're doomed to spend millions more on ensuring that murderers who have the flu get their hot water bottles.

The Vacavile Reporter reports that "a federal judge on Tuesday denied Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's request to remove a court-appointed receiver who wants the cash-strapped state to spend $8 billion to build new health care facilities in its prisons."

The reasoning was that apparently, the state has failed to meet the conditions laid out by the original Court which appointed the receiver to make sure that prisoners had elbow room. Of special note was the fact that U. S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton "called it 'mind-boggling' that the state lacks a treatment plan 14 years after a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of mentally ill prisoners. The judge previously found that mental health care in state prisons is so poor inmates frequently commit suicide," according to the Reporter.

Or, as Judge Thelton Henderson wrote, "The court is far from confident that (state officials) have the will, capacity, or leadership to provide constitutionally adequate medical care in the absence of a receivership."

Those who have read the federal Constitution should be looking quite confused at the moment. After all, what on earth is "constitutionally adequate medical care"? For that matter, where in the Constitution does it say anything about medical care? It doesn't.

Naturally, the state plans to appeal and it's a good thing because this type of reform (i.e. building new hospitals and sticking mentally ill prisoners in their civilian equivalents in the interim) is neither wanted nor needed at this time.

Despite Governor Schwarzenegger's turncoat appeals for more infrastructure spending, it's doubtful that even the Governator would welcome an expense like this. The former bit, the building of hospitals, might seem appealing insofar as it could lessen the crippling 12 percent unemployment rate California currently suffers under, but if one wants to spend billions of taxpayer dollars, surely the fact that these are prison hospitals would rouse resentment, even among those segments of California's population who regularly beg to leech off the taxpayers' collective wallet. Why not civilian hospitals, or schools, or roads, or something one doesn't have to commit a crime to access? At least that would increase the living standard for people who haven't made it their business to trample on basic values.

Unfortunately, all the outrage in the world will be impotent in this case, because, as Governor Jerry Brown so aptly pointed out, ""The federal receivership has become its own autonomous government operating outside the normal checks and balances of state and federal law...California is spending almost $14,000 per inmate for health care, far more than any other state. It is time for a dose of fiscal common sense."

This "autonomous government" can unfortunately only be overthrown through the power of the Courts. Hopefully, at least one of those institutions will see the error their ways, and stop allowing this federal "receivership" to be the receiver of money which California's people don't have, and which they wouldn't give it to begin with, if they had a choice.

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