31-201.01. Duties of the director; tort actions; medical treatment costs; state immunity; definitions

A. The director shall hold in custody all persons who are sentenced to the department under the law and shall hold such persons for the term directed by the court, subject to law.

B. In addition to the medical and health services to be provided pursuant to subsection D of this section, the director, in cooperation with the department of health services, may provide to prisoners psychiatric care and treatment pursuant to sections 31-226 and 31-226.01.

C. The director may institute and pursue programs that promote the rehabilitation of the prisoners in the director's charge.

D. The director shall provide medical and health services for the prisoners. The director may contract for professional services to assist the director in carrying out this responsibility on behalf of the state, except that all records made and retained in connection with the services provided by this subsection shall be made and retained only by duly authorized or qualified medical and professional personnel and not by any prisoner. Such records when not in use shall be retained in a safe and secure place.

E. If a victim of a person for whom a cost of incarceration has been calculated notifies the state that full restitution has not been made by the person for whom a cost of incarceration has been calculated, the state shall interplead with the superior court the disputed amount and set off the amounts owed the state from the remaining obligation.

F. Any and all causes of action that may arise out of tort caused by the director, prison officers or employees of the department, within the scope of their legal duty, shall run only against the state.

G. The director shall establish by rule reasonable medical and health service fees for the medical and health services that are provided pursuant to subsection D of this section. Except as provided in subsection I of this section, every inmate shall be charged a reasonable medical and health services fee for each medical visit an inmate makes pursuant to a health needs request form or for emergency treatment.

H. Except as provided in subsection I of this section, the director may charge each inmate a reasonable fee for prescriptions, medication or prosthetic devices.

I. The director shall exempt the following inmates or medical visits by inmates from payment of medical and health services fees and fees for prescriptions, medication or prosthetic devices:

1. Medical visits initiated by the medical or mental health staff of the department.

2. Medical visits to a physician by inmates who are referred by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.

3. Inmates at reception centers.

4. Juvenile inmates.

5. Pregnant inmates.

6. Seriously mentally ill inmates. For the purposes of this paragraph, "seriously mentally ill inmates" means inmates who as a result of a mental disorder as defined in section 36-501 exhibit emotional or behavioral functioning which is so impaired as to interfere substantially with their capacity to remain in the general prison population without supportive treatment or services of a long-term or indefinite duration and whose mental disability is severe and persistent, resulting in a long-term limitation of their functional capacities for primary activities of daily living, including interpersonal relationships, self-care, employment and recreation.

7. Inmates with developmental disabilities who are housed in a special programs unit.

8. Inmates who are housed in unit 8 at the Florence prison facility.

9. Inmates who are inpatients at the Alhambra prison facility special programs psychiatric hospital.

10. Inmates who are inpatients at the Flamenco prison facility mental health treatment unit.

11. Inmates who are undergoing administrative physical examinations for statewide driver status and fire fighting crews.

12. Inmates who are undergoing follow-up medical treatment for chronic diseases.

J. An inmate shall not be refused medical treatment for financial reasons.

K. All monies received by the department for medical and health service fees shall be deposited in the general fund.

L. A person who is convicted of a felony offense and who is incarcerated while awaiting sentence or while serving a sentence imposed by a court of law may not bring a cause of action seeking damages or equitable relief from the state or its political subdivisions, agencies, officers or employees for injuries suffered while in the custody of the state or its political subdivisions or agencies unless the complaint alleges specific facts from which the court may conclude that the plaintiff suffered serious physical injury or the claim is authorized by a federal statute.

M. The director shall establish criteria for reasonable deductions from monies credited to the prisoner's spendable account to repay the cost of:

1. State property that the inmate wilfully damages or destroys during the inmate's incarceration.

2. Medical treatment for injuries that the inmate inflicts on himself or others.

3. Searching for and apprehending an inmate who escapes or attempts to escape.

4. Quelling a riot or other disturbance in which the inmate is unlawfully involved.

5. Fees prescribed by title 28 or the department of transportation's rules for the issuance of either a driver license or a nonoperating identification license to the inmate, if eligible.

N. For the purposes of this section:

1. "Reasonable fee" means an amount not to exceed $5.

2. "Serious physical injury" means an impairment of physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.