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Accountability for prison deaths

September 26, 2007

Re "Deadly medical lapses in prison," Sept. 20

It's been nearly two years since U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed Robert Sillen as federal receiver for California's 32 state prisons, specifically to upgrade health and medical care for the state's 173,000 inmates. Yet The Times cites a report that states "one in six deaths of California prison inmates last year might have been preventable."

California taxpayers in 2006 paid $1.5 billion for prison medical care, yet 381 inmates died while incarcerated; many of these deaths were acknowledged as preventable. After 19 months of little progress in providing "constitutionally adequate" prison healthcare, both Henderson and Sillen should be held accountable. It is also the responsibility of the governor and the Legislature to make prison medical care a priority before more preventable inmate deaths occur.

Dan Anzel

Los Angeles

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