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Judge Appoints Calif. Prison Overseer

February 15, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ A veteran hospital executive has been named to oversee California’s troubled prison health care system after years of complaints about inmates being neglected.

Robert Sillen, head of Santa Clara County’s public health system, was appointed Tuesday by federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who asked him to draft a plan to reform the system within seven months.

Sillen’s appointment was the result of a lawsuit filed against the state in 2001 by a prisoner advocacy group that blamed poor medical care for the deaths of more than two dozens inmates. The lawsuit was settled long ago, but the state has been unable to meet key terms of the agreement.

In a statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said his administration was dedicated to transforming the system ``by creating an accountable environment that meets constitutional standards for care.″

Last year, the judge ordered a complete overhaul of the Department of Corrections after declaring the system’s inadequacies to be inhumane and unconstitutional.

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