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Dec 15, 2009 1:56 PM

Fewer people dying in California prisons

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The death rate for California inmates dropped for a second consecutive year, but a federal receiver overseeing prison medical care says more can be done to stop prison deaths.

Receiver Clark Kelso says the annual inmate death rate dropped to 215 deaths per 100,000 prisoners in 2008, down from 230 in 2007 and nearly 250 in 2006. Kelso attributed the decline to more doctors and nurses hired since a receiver was assigned in 2006. But he says California needs more medical prisons and better record-keeping.

Preliminary death counts for this year indicate the rate will be about the same or higher than in 2008.

A federal judge assigned a receiver to take over medical care in California prisons after finding that too many inmates were dying of malpractice or neglect.

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