The Plight of California’s Prisons: Hunger Strike, Sterilization and Valley Fever

By Jean Trounstine

It’s been all over the papers and many bloggers are tackling the horrendous conditions in California. A prison system that in 2011 was ordered by the Supreme Court to figure out what to do with 30,000 people who because of the system’s overcrowding were suffering “cruel and unusual punishment.” As Laura Gottesdiener wrote in the Huffington Post , “The state’s 140,000 inmates, jam-packed into 33 prisons only built to hold 80,000 individuals…commit suicide at double the national inmate average, experience unprecedented rates of lock-downs, receive inadequate medical treatment and sometimes live in continuous fear of violence.”

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In early July, the infuriating news broke that between 2006-2010, doctors who were under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) sterilized nearly 150 female inmates without anyone’s approval. Corey G. Johnson, writing for The Center for Investigative Reporting wrote that these doctors were paid $147,460 to perform the procedure that “at least 148 women received tubal ligations…during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.”

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