Medical Workers At California Prisons Paid Six-Figure Salaries

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Thousands of employees of the state of California made over $200,000 last year — with the vast majority of top payouts going to prison medical workers, according to newly-released data.

Controller John Chiang posted the salaries on his official website on Tuesday night, making the salaries publicly available for the first time, but without revealing the identities of the employees.

Of the 1,400 top earners in the state, 790 were prison doctors, dentists, or nurses, while 300 more were psychiatrists and other health care professionals employed by the Department of Mental Health.

The biggest factor behind the top salaries: payouts for unused vacation and sick time that sometimes doubled an employee’s base salary.

The Los Angeles Times reported one prison psychiatrist, Fong Lai, was paid $594,976 for what amounts to over two-and-a-half years of unused sick time.

San Francisco Chronicle political columnist Phil Matier told KNX 1070 the overspending should be blamed on the state’s lax oversight.

“Basically, what we have is bad management going on here,” said Matier.

California law limits the amount of time workers can accrue to 80 days of vacation or sick time.

Many of the employees listed in the database had up to three years of accrued time.

“How do you manage to work that much, not take a day off, in that amount of time?” asked Matier. “But so far, lawmakers don’t seem to be too much interested in this.”


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