Although California prison officials have cut way back on the amount of anti-psychotic drugs it feeds to inmates, the state is still the leader among big corrections systems, according to numbers crunched by the Associated Press.
Some of those numbers came from a report (pdf) in 2012 by the state’s independent Legislative Analyst’s Office, which calculated that California spent $1,500 a year for psychiatric drugs annually on each inmate compared to an average of $610. Other figures were obtained through state Public Records Act requests.
California spent $144.5 million on prison pharmaceuticals in 2012, and about 19% of that money went for anti-psychotic drugs, according to the AP. That’s actually a big drop from 2008 when 34% of all prison prescriptions went for anti-psychotics, and 2009-11 when the figure was 26%. Anti-psychotic drugs are often used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
At the same time California prisons were spending 26% of its prison drug money on anti-psychotics, New York was laying out 17%, Texas 6% and Florida 3%, the AP reported.
Almost one-fourth of California’s 133,000 inmates are receiving mental health treatment, a point of contention between state officials and federal courts, which began oversight of the state’s prison medical care in 2005 in response to a lawsuit filed four years earlier. A commissioned study in 2006 by Maxor National Pharmacy Services found, among other things, the “lack of an effective clinical management process to ensure medically-appropriate and cost-effective treatment through use of the drug formulary.”
Despite Maxor’s oddly optimistic report entitled, “An Analysis of the Crisis in the California Prison Pharmacy System Including a Road Map from Despair to Excellence,” the state still seems to be struggling along the path to sobriety.
Governor Jerry Brown’s administration has been locked in a struggle with federal judges over continuation of prison oversight by the courts. In January, Brown declared victory, claimed the state prison system was a model for the nation and asked the feds to relinquish control.
So far, they have declined, one reason being 32 inmate suicides in 2012, a 13% increase over the year before.