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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Audit: State Should Have Fired Incompetent Prison Shrink, Paid Him $600,000 Instead

Posted By on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 5:28 PM

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California's prison system wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars -- while putting prisoners at risk -- by continuing to employ a psychiatrist for years after it first received misconduct allegations that eventually led to his firing, according to a California State Auditor's report issued today.

The audit, which you can read here, covered a range of improper activities by state agencies and employees, including the theft of DMV car registration fees and one employee who took two-hour breaks every day for three years. But it reserved its harshest criticisms for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which let a disciplinary case against an errant shrink languish for three years.

According to the audit, the prison system's internal affairs department determined in October 2006 that the psychiatrist had "negligently failed to prescribe, overprescribed, and inappropriately prescribed medications to patients, thereby placing them at risk of physical harm."

Nevertheless, he was kept employed -- though removed from his medical functions and put on desk duty -- until May 2009.

During that time, the psychiatrist (who is not identified in the audit) continued to earn a salary of $20,247 per month. Inexplicably, he also received two "merit-based salary increases" while on desk duty. The department paid him more than $600,000 between the Internal Affairs finding and his dismissal, sending him off with an extra $29,149 for accumulated leave time.

The audit also found that Corrections was slow to start the process of investigating the psychiatrist, waiting four months after an initial complaint before assigning someone to look into allegations that he "had falsified records and was unfit for duty."

During that time, auditors found, patients were put at risk by continued contact with the doctor.

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Peter Jamison


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