California Attorney General Jerry Brown has filed a motion in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to halt an $8 billion prison hospital construction plan and revert control of prison healthcare back to the state.
The federal receivership has turned into its own autonomous government operating outside the normal checks and balances of state and federal law, Brown said in a written statement.
Californias prison healthcare system was placed in receivership in 2006 by a federal judge who declared the system unconstitutional. Over the past year, the court-appointed receiver, J. Clark Kelso, has repeatedly clashed with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state officials over his plan to build seven new prison hospitals, with 10,000 beds, and upgrade medical facilities at the states 33 prisons.
Kelso says the new hospitals are needed to bring care up to basic constitutional standards. Brown called the project extravagant at a time when the state is facing a $40 billion deficit.
A federal judge ordered the state to make a down payment of $250 million last fall. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed that decision. The 9th Circuit will hear oral arguments over the funding on Feb. 12.