Receiver or Thief?

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.