ANA Commends Supreme Court Decision to Ensure Adequate Health Care in California Prisons

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) commends the Supreme Court of the United States decision upholding a lower court ruling that requires the State of California to develop a plan to reduce prison extreme overcrowding so inmates can obtain necessary health care and psychiatric services.

ANA joined an amicus brief, or "friend of the court" action indicating its support for the plaintiffs seeking humane and life-saving physical and mental health care. ANA participated with other health care organizations such as the American Public Health Association, American Psychiatric Association and the American Association of Public Health Physicians.

The friend of the court brief asserted that health care in California prisons falls woefully below minimally adequate standards. The substandard health care not only results in preventable deaths of prisoners, but also threatens the public health of the inmate population, correctional staff and outside communities through the increased spread of infectious disease, the brief states.

California prisons house twice as many prisoners as intended by design. The court ruling does not mean the immediate early release of thousands of prisoners, but points to parole system reform, sentencing law changes and other measures to safely reduce the inmate population The decision makes clear that the state’s budgetary challenges will not bar courts from ordering appropriate remedial action.