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Life In Prison: California Medical Facility

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published January 7, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Aging, infirm and ill inmates are housed at California Medical Facility, a prison in Vacaville, California. It also has a hospice unit for terminally ill inmates.

— As part of our ongoing investigation into prisons, we spent a day at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California. CMF is a prison that houses aging, infirm, and ill inmates. It also has a hospice unit for terminally ill inmates.

Aging inmates are among the fastest growing segments of the inmate population, according to government statistics. They also cost three times more than younger inmates because of age-related health care costs. Health care for inmates accounts for almost twenty percent of the state's total corrections budget.

The Project Envision documentary, "Life in Prison," will air Jan. 25 at 9 p. m. on KPBS Television.

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Avatar for user 'Jonathan'

Jonathan | January 8, 2010 at 9:52 p.m. ― 7 years ago

1. How may of the old prisoners would have had the death penalty if it were not for Rose Bird?
2. Are the medical costs of the old prisoners paid by Medicare?
3. If the prisoners were set free, their housing and medical expenses would be paid by some other agency.
4. How much of the prison cost is caused by the excessive union benefits given the prison guards?

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Avatar for user 'Cleo'

Cleo | January 9, 2010 at 9:50 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Many thanks to Joann & KPBS for taking the time to do this series....

No Jonathon, the medical care for Elderly inmates is NOT paid for by medicare- it is paid for by the state. Any of the questions you have above - answers can be found by googling CCPOA, CA prison news....and by checking here:

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Avatar for user 'ReEntry'

ReEntry | January 12, 2010 at 11:42 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Wow! this is a great media presentation... well edited, well presented. I'll bookmark this page to send to all my friends. It is a travesty that we have no compassion to release old and infirm inmates. It is equally a travesty that we give long and difficult sentences to those who are NON-violent.

I just can't understand why ALL prisoners (even consensual teenagers) connected with sex offenses are labelled in California as violent offenders.... Let's start with sentence reform.

If we lock up ONLY the ones who are truly dangerous, then perhaps there would be enough money to help rehabilitate them and the recidivism would go down. Let the others go free. Those of us on the outside who lock inmates into these crowded prisons are the ABUSERS, not those who are on the inside.

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Avatar for user 'Cleo'

Cleo | January 12, 2010 at 1:22 p.m. ― 7 years ago

Let's start with sentence reform.

this is where we NEED to start to effectively start reforming the system!! Then we need to focus on CDCr admin and how they manage or mismanage the funds allotted to them- and third, CDCr payroll must be a factor in reform!!

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Avatar for user 'sellinnyellin'

sellinnyellin | January 18, 2010 at 7:35 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Just a note, the prisoner Richard Lauranzano, is serving his 27th year of a 30 to life sentence for among other things child molestation and conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder of the same child. Perhaps the KPBS people think that this issue is covered on all sides with a 2 minutes presentation but could they have found a better spokesman, I think so. The prisoner submits, not on his behalf of course, that these elderly prisoners pose no threat and are being kept well after their sentences warrant. But in his case he hasn't even met the minimum 30 years for attempting to kill his victim after testifying about their own molestation and yet he is taking up two slots in this little clip. I have no problem with thoughtful, insightful, activist journalism, I sincerely feel this program falls short on all counts.

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | January 18, 2010 at 9:59 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Thanks for your comments sellinnyellin. This two minute clip is a preview of a 30 minute documentary we will air Jan 25 at 9 pm. It is also one part of a series of stories we have been and continue to present on our website, radio ,and TV.
We will list convictions and sentences of inmates according to the department of corrections in the half hour documentary. I look forward to your comments after the documentary.
Joanne Faryon

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Avatar for user 'sellinnyellin'

sellinnyellin | January 18, 2010 at 10:22 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Thanks Joanne. Will look for the documentary. Will it be online?

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | January 18, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Yes, it will be on-line the week of January 25th.

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | January 18, 2010 at 10:35 a.m. ― 7 years ago

Jonathan, inmates' health care is paid entirely by the state. However, the receiver in charge of prison health care has some ideas about how to shift some of those costs to the federal government. Clark Kelso is looking at "medical parole," old and sick inmates in need of chronic care being released to secure, privately run nursing homes. We'll have more on this in the documentary, Jan 25 at 9 pm.
Joanne Faryon

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Avatar for user 'roxy'

roxy | January 19, 2010 at 8:17 p.m. ― 7 years ago

Why aren't there any healthcare maximums for prisoners. I don't think it is fair that when I purchase a healthcare policy, I am subject to calendar year maximums or lifetime maximums on my benefits but prisoners get unlimited coverage!!!

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Avatar for user 'Earthman'

Earthman | January 28, 2010 at 8:09 p.m. ― 6 years, 11 months ago

To the producers of the show on the growing health costs to the State of California. Although your show portrayed the need to release some lifers to their families and allow them the cost of taking care of them, the irresponsibility of the interviewer and producer, and a previous blogger for the incorrect information on inmate Richard Lauranzano. The facts are..he was not convicted and charged with sex with children as you portrayed and he did not commit murder. He was convicted for conspiracy to commit to murder while he was in prison. No one was hurt or even close to it. As far as as the other crime: it was one child and he did not have contact. Ya I don't condone any of the crimes but come on. I wrote a letter to the Governor and warden after meeting several lifers that it's time to reduce the population and reduce the cost to the taxpayers by releasing 20% of the population. Maybe we can start with those that have family to go to and are no threat to society. It can be done. However the lifers have become a pawn in the game of politics.

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | January 28, 2010 at 10:55 p.m. ― 6 years, 11 months ago

Earthman, thanks for your comments. With reference to Lauranzano, we are quoting his record according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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Avatar for user 'Rehabworks'

Rehabworks | January 30, 2010 at 3:01 p.m. ― 6 years, 11 months ago

As a previous employee of CMF I can tell you that there are many inmates locked up for life who could be released. I worked with two inmates who have been incarcerated for over twenty years each has a stable, loving family with jobs available to them when they come home. Both of these inmates were approved for parole last year but Schwenegger overturned the courts decision. In both cases the inmates were within 48 hours of release when they were notified that they would NOT be leaving; each of them accepted the disappointing news with grace that few "non-inmates" would be capable of displaying. Having interacted with them on a nearly daily basis, I would support their moving into the house next door to me. Their stories, and others like theirs, should be told too.

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Avatar for user 'Earthman'

Earthman | February 6, 2010 at 9:59 a.m. ― 6 years, 11 months ago


It's interesting. I thought that stuff ws not available to the public. It's also interesting that the previous blogger either removed or changed their slanderous remarks. I don't think you would have received the information from CCDR. Or if you had then someone has committed a crime.


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Avatar for user 'Jurgen'

Jurgen | February 6, 2010 at 3:50 p.m. ― 6 years, 11 months ago

I am really wondering if KPBS is no sponsored by the prison unions.
This report is so biased. Why don't you talk about the real numbers.
Here you can read more about the real thing:

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