By Nick Dobis, News Web/Social Media Producer
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the Butte County Board of Supervisors to increase its current medical agreement with California Forensics Medical Group to provide two additional days of dental service per month for its inmates.
According to the Board of Supervisors' Agenda, the Sheriff’s Office is seeking an increase of $12,800 which could be amended to the county’s current contract and continue through its expiration on June 30 of this year.
“With our inmate population on the rise these last few years due to prison realignment, the demand for dental services currently outpaces the available staff hours and funding,” said Butte County Undersheriff Kory Honea. “The increase in funding is to ensure our inmates receive adequate dental care.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the cost per day of dental service for the jail is $1,280, or nearly $470,000 annually. Although some viewers may view this as an unnecessary expenditure, Honea stated today the investment in dental care for inmates could save the jail and the county millions of dollars in potential lawsuits.
“The Brown v. Plata court case in 2011 is a prime example of why dental care is necessary for inmates, even if they did break the law to be where they’re at,” said Honea. “If an inmate has an abscessed tooth, it turns from a dental problem into a health problem and we are mandated under the 8th Amendment of the Constitution to provide care and avoid cruel or unusual punishment for our inmates.”
In the 2011 court case, the California Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of state prison inmates, claiming the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had violated the their 8th Amendment rights. The decision subsequently led the CDCR to redistribute its inmate and parolee population to mandated levels.
California Forensics Medical Group, the company in contract with Butte County, is the first west coast based, privately owned company providing healthcare for correctional and mental health facilities, according to their website. They currently provide services to 65 facilities and approximately 16,000 inmates. They are the only private correctional medical, mental and dental health contractor in California.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors will weigh in on the agreement in its next meeting on February 11.