Pennsylvania near the bottom for prison health care spending, Delaware near top

State-by-state analysis of spending on prison health care shows Pennsylvania near the bottom.

A person holds a stethoscope to the chest of a man in an orange prison jumpsuit

In this photo Jan. 12, 2012 file photo, an inmate is examined at the medical unit of the Deuel Vocational Institution near Tracy, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo, file)

Pennsylvania is in the bottom third of states for inmate health care spending and the bottom 10 for health care staffing, according to new analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Delaware is one of the highest-paying states for inmate medical care and health care staffing, while New Jersey is in the middle of the pack.

The research does not assess quality of care. However, the analysis suggested that the amount of money spent likely reflects how much care is provided.

Both the United Nations high commissioner for human rights and the World Health Organization have guidelines for prisoner health care, but they are not typically followed in the United States.

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Maria Schiff, a Pew researcher, said that although most facilities are regularly monitored, the average prisoner’s physical and mental health is worse than that of the general public.

Most states check for HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B.

Some states that have expanded Medicaid, such as Pennsylvania, are trying to enroll prisoners right before they are released to ensure they get care on the “outside.”

“The time immediately after release can be especially dangerous, even deadly,” Schiff said. “Their prospects for a successful reentry are greatly improved if their transition from prison based health care to community health care is seamless.”

Recently released prisoners are at a high risk of drug overdose and suicide.

Pennsylvania uses a combination of state employees and contracted vendors to provide care in prisons.

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