Modbee — A former Chowchilla prison doctor investigated by the California medical board after ordering tubal ligations without state approval is responsible for hundreds of other inmate sterilizations, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.
Dr. James Heinrich also has a history of medical controversies and expensive malpractice settlements both inside and outside prison walls. Female patients have accused him of trying to dictate their reproductive decisions, unsanitary habits and medical malpractice.
Despite that history, Heinrich was not only hired by the prison system, but also kept on once a federal judge appointed a receiver to clean up the prison's medical system.
Heinrich, 69, retired from Valley State Prison for Women in 2011 after six years. Federal authorities rehired Heinrich as a contract physician, and he continued treating inmates at Valley State through December 2012.
An earlier CIR investigation, published in July, found that more than 100 tubal ligation surgeries took place without the required state approval from 2006 to 2010. At the time, prison documents indicated there were 148 of those surgeries. Analysis of subsequent data and documentation provided under the state Public Records Act shows there were 132 because some were double counted.
The women were signed up for the surgery while pregnant at the two women's prisons that house pregnant inmates, the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla. Valley State became a men's prison in 2013.
Newly obtained state prison data indicates that more than half of those surgery referrals -- 74 -- were made at Valley State. More than two-thirds of those referrals came from Heinrich or a nurse on his staff, according to the prison's medical service request records. continue reading...