Last week Attorney General Jerry Brown accused the state prisons receiver of designing “gold-plated utopias” for California’s sickly inmates.
Today the receiver, J. Clark Kelso, shot back, providing reporters with photographs of the state’s California State Hospital, a facility for violent sexual offenders opened during the Schwarzenegger administration that he contends is the very Club Med for convicts that Brown loathes. That's a "socialization courtyard" at left.
The photos, available on the Department of Mental Health’s Web site, tout the prison’s “state of the art gym,” where inmates can play “badminton, basketball and volleyball” on a rubberized floor. There’s also a “patient mall” decorated in bright colors, a baseball courtyard, eight landscaped atriums, two chapels and a sweat lodge.
“A picture speaks a thousand volumes here,” Kelso said. The governor and Brown, he continued, “are criticizing their own treatment programs.”
Who do we have to hold up to get into this paradise? — after the jump.
Brown and Schwarzenegger blasted Kelso last week for including seeming luxuries like yoga rooms and landscaped courtyards in his multi-billion dollar plans for seven new inmate medical facilities. The state has asked a federal judge to can Kelso and return the prisons to the Department of Corrections' control.
Kelso said today that no one forced him to include the recreational areas in his plans but that he did so “to reflect best state thinking about treating mental health” needs of inmates.
“I don’t believe it’s a boondoggle. I don’t believe it’s gold-plated treatment,” Kelso said.
And then the receiver issued this threat: If the state doesn’t like his plans for mentally ill inmates, he’ll drop them and treat just the physically sick convicts. Kelso said he’s only obligated by a federal judge to improve medical treatment in the prisons and that he only took on care for mental health patients “as an accommodation to the governor.”
The state is being sued by inmates for inadequacies in both types of care.
A governor’s spokesman said this morning that he would have no immediate comment on Kelso’s claims.
— Cheryl Miller