SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's ability to provide health care to its prison inmates has improved so much since a receiver was appointed to oversee it that the state should prepare to resume some oversight, a District Court judge said on Tuesday.
"While some critical work remains outstanding - most notably on construction issues - it is clear that many of the goals of the Receivership have been accomplished," Judge Thelton Henderson said in a court document.
"Given the Receivership's progress to date, the end of the Receivership appears to be in sight, and the Court seeks to get the parties' and the Receiver's views on when the Receivership should be terminated and how this case should progress after the Receivership has ended," Henderson added.
Henderson, who nearly six years ago appointed a receiver to take charge of California prisons' inadequate health-care system, ordered state officials and prison receiver J. Clark Kelso to plan for how much responsibility to return to the state.
A spokeswoman for Kelso said the receiver's office already is "80 percent" toward completing its work of improving medical care in California's overcrowded prison system.
Under a program initiated last year by Governor Jerry Brown, California is addressing its prison overcrowding problem, and cutting its expense, by sending thousands of felons who are not sex offenders and deemed to be nonviolent to serve time in county and local jails.
The case in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is Plata et al v. Brown et al., No. C01-1351 TEH.
(Reporting By Jim Christie; Editing by Jan Paschal)