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Photos From California's Largest Prison Medical Facility

The California Medical Facility in Vacaville is the primary location for providing health care services to California's incarcerated men. It houses the state's oldest and sickest inmates. As the elderly inmate population continues to grow, so too will the health care needs and cost of providing care to this prison population. KPBS producer Angela Carone spent an afternoon photographing inside California largest prison hospital.

A cell block in the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville, one of the state’s 33 prisons. It has the largest prison hospital and houses California’s oldest and sickest inmates. General population inmates are also at CMF to help staff the prison.

1 A cell block in the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville, one of the state’s 33 prisons. It has the largest prison hospital and houses California’s oldest and sickest inmates. General population inmates are also at CMF to help staff the prison. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Jerry Wade, 63, has been in prison for 38 years, serving a life sentence for murder with no chance of parole.  California prison inmates over the age of 55 have doubled in the past 10 years.  The number of male prisoners over 60 will triple in the next eight years.

2 Jerry Wade, 63, has been in prison for 38 years, serving a life sentence for murder with no chance of parole. California prison inmates over the age of 55 have doubled in the past 10 years. The number of male prisoners over 60 will triple in the next eight years. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Jimmy Reece, 65, has just had cataract surgery.  He is serving a life sentence for murder.

3 Jimmy Reece, 65, has just had cataract surgery. He is serving a life sentence for murder. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

A prisoner in a wheelchair moves through the halls, a common sight at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville.

4 A prisoner in a wheelchair moves through the halls, a common sight at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

A wheelchair sits outside a prisoner's cell because the doors are too narrow for it to fit inside.

5 A wheelchair sits outside a prisoner's cell because the doors are too narrow for it to fit inside. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

A bed and personal belongings fill the cell of a prisoner who recently had a stroke and now walks with a cane. In state prisons without a medical facility, bunk beds can be an issue for sick and elderly prisoners.

6 A bed and personal belongings fill the cell of a prisoner who recently had a stroke and now walks with a cane. In state prisons without a medical facility, bunk beds can be an issue for sick and elderly prisoners. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

A wheelchair-bound prisoner pulls a laundry cart through the prison corridor known as the mainline.  Some handicapped prisoners still work within the prison.

7 A wheelchair-bound prisoner pulls a laundry cart through the prison corridor known as the mainline. Some handicapped prisoners still work within the prison. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Two inmates walk together through the facility assisted by a walker and a cane.

8 Two inmates walk together through the facility assisted by a walker and a cane. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

A sick prisoner sleeps in the hospital unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

9 A sick prisoner sleeps in the hospital unit at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Richard Lauranzano, 62, stands in the prison lunch room. He is serving a 50-year sentence for seven counts of sexual offenses against children and murder.  He is currently being treated for a heart condition and was treated in prison for stage four, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  His cancer is now in remission.

10 Richard Lauranzano, 62, stands in the prison lunch room. He is serving a 50-year sentence for seven counts of sexual offenses against children and murder. He is currently being treated for a heart condition and was treated in prison for stage four, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His cancer is now in remission. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Antonio Sullivan, 71, is a "three striker" serving a sentence of 25 years to life.  One reason cited for the growing numbers of elderly inmates is California's 1994 enactment of the three strikes law. The law says that a third felony conviction brings a prison sentence of 25 years to life, with no guarantee for parole.

11 Antonio Sullivan, 71, is a "three striker" serving a sentence of 25 years to life. One reason cited for the growing numbers of elderly inmates is California's 1994 enactment of the three strikes law. The law says that a third felony conviction brings a prison sentence of 25 years to life, with no guarantee for parole. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Sullivan holds a crumpled, torn document indicating a DUI conviction. According to Sullivan, the DUI was his third strike, resulting in a sentence of 25 years to life. He says he served six years for murder in the 1960s, and a second sentence of 18 months for assault. Documents from the Department of Corrections indicate his third strike was a "DUI/Bodily Injury" conviction. Sullivan says he'll be dead before he's eligible for parole.

12 Sullivan holds a crumpled, torn document indicating a DUI conviction. According to Sullivan, the DUI was his third strike, resulting in a sentence of 25 years to life. He says he served six years for murder in the 1960s, and a second sentence of 18 months for assault. Documents from the Department of Corrections indicate his third strike was a "DUI/Bodily Injury" conviction. Sullivan says he'll be dead before he's eligible for parole. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Inmate Brian Long is dying of prostate cancer and will likely spend his remaining days in the hospice unit, where  an attempt is made to humanize the rooms. Shutters are placed over barred windows, pictures hung on the walls, and a small, television set is made available. The quilt on his bed is one of many donated by Shepherd of The Hills Lutheran Church in Vacaville. These quilts are made by a group of elderly women for the inmates in hospice care.

13 Inmate Brian Long is dying of prostate cancer and will likely spend his remaining days in the hospice unit, where an attempt is made to humanize the rooms. Shutters are placed over barred windows, pictures hung on the walls, and a small, television set is made available. The quilt on his bed is one of many donated by Shepherd of The Hills Lutheran Church in Vacaville. These quilts are made by a group of elderly women for the inmates in hospice care. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Inmate Brian Long writes a letter to his sister.

14 Inmate Brian Long writes a letter to his sister. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Brian Long, 51, is serving an 11-year sentence for "annoying/molesting a child" and has a prior conviction of having sex with a minor. Long is expected to die in the next three months and has applied for compassionate release.  In 2009, there were 57 applications for discharge under compassionate release and three were granted.

15 Brian Long, 51, is serving an 11-year sentence for "annoying/molesting a child" and has a prior conviction of having sex with a minor. Long is expected to die in the next three months and has applied for compassionate release. In 2009, there were 57 applications for discharge under compassionate release and three were granted. (Jan. 5, 2010, Angela Carone/KPBS)

Comments

Avatar for user 'Jim Tinsky'

Jim Tinsky, KPBS Staff | January 21, 2010 at 10:40 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I got a claustrophobic rush just looking at that cell shot. Excellent photography.

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Avatar for user 'norweb'

norweb | January 22, 2010 at 10:35 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

The prison system gets a much larger budget allowance for the sick prisoners. That is why they won't let them out.

I am one of those who applied for an "extended Compasisonate Release" under Assembly Bill 1539, for my son, Mark Grangetto, It was denied on Writ of Mandamus by a Sacramento Judge without even holding a hearing, in late 2009.

I filed the Writ after two prison doctors had recommended the release and the prison system failed to act on the doctor's recommendations. The Judge obviously felt it was outside of his legal authority to act on the Writ, so he denied it the day before the hearing was to take place.

My son will probably never live to see old age. His diabetes is completely out of control. I informed the prison system back in 2000 that Mark was severely losing weight and his feet were swelling. I got a letter back from Salinas Valley Prison where he was housed at that time and the doctor said we find nothing wrong with his health condition. In 2003 the diabetes was out of control and the blood sugar hit 815. My son had gone three (3) years without one prison doctor recognizing the need for diabetic treatment. In the recent past his blood sugar has gone over 1000. His feet are so swollen they look like they will burst. They recently removed part of the two big toenails. Weeks after the surgery the toe is still bleeding and it looks infected. I imagine very soon the toe will have to be amputated.

He can barely get out of bed and must have the wheelchair in his room. He is extremely nauseated all the time and lately can't eat the nausea is so bad. I see no reason why I shouldn't be allowed to bring Mark home and hire someone to help me take care of him. The prison system will not let these people go. They want the money in their prison budget.

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Avatar for user 'Poortrucker'

Poortrucker | March 6, 2012 at 5:52 a.m. ― 2 years, 8 months ago

CA prison guards' union (CCPOA) lobbied for the 3-strikes law with the ulterior motive of increased paychecks. Every get-tough-on-crime legislation that increased prison sentencing, they promoted its passage. CDCR regulation stipulate a minimum number of prison guards to inmate ratio to be scheduled each shift. With an over crowded prison, it's easy to get overtime pay. News had reported prison guards had grossed over $100K annual due to overtime pay. When federal court ordered CA to reduce prison population, it was CCPOA that filed for appeal. These prison guards are gaming the system for more $$ on their paychecks, which explains why only 5% of compassionate release applications were granted. CCPOA is based less than 4 miles from the state Capitol. Currently they're fighting to prevent inmates from being transferred to private prison facilities.

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Avatar for user 'Daisy'

Daisy | October 21, 2012 at 3:49 p.m. ― 2 years, 1 month ago

why is he in prison?.

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Avatar for user 'yoursystemsucks'

yoursystemsucks | January 26, 2014 at 6:51 a.m. ― 10 months ago

Here's the solution. Educate the voters before they vote in some stupid law like three strikes, being tough on crime is admirable but not always logical. Look at other countries criminal justice systems and learn from them.

Jerry Brown is supposed to lessen the number of inmates in prison. If it were a perfect world he could do so by releasing the lifers who have served at least 25 years. It's a known fact that only 1 percent of those who have been released after serving this amount of time reoffend and return to prison. 1 PERCENT that includes murders, drug dealers, every kind of criminal we have locked away will make sure he doesn't return to a cage if he has been in one for 25 years or more. But instead Jerry Brown is releasing the low level offenders which consist of addicted young people who usually take a few trips through the revolving doors of prison before they have had enough. It makes no sense. It makes me think they don't want to solve the problems like this one. They just want to bitch about it. Can you imagine if he released all these old guys who are in for the heinous crimes they are there for? The public would have a shit fit. As if a bunch of 70 year old men *that'80 years in non incarcerated time* are going to get out of prison and start terrorizing our neighborhoods.

The punishment of incarceration doesn't work the way it was supposed to anyway. Rehabilitate. Ha. That's a joke. They don't even try. Whoever said its all about job security is right. Thats all its about. Each little employee only cares about his own paycheck and not what he is doing to California as a whole. Why should they when they retire they all go to Idaho for some reason.

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