Well, they could NOT pay me enough to go into San Quentin, Pelican Bay or Corcoran State Prisons and practice dentistry – regardless of the pay and benefits.
Jeffrey Wang closed his struggling medical practice in Visalia, California, in 2007 to take a job as a physician treating inmates in Corcoran State Prison, where murderer Charles Manson is locked up.
“The first few months I regretted it,” the 54-year-old Wang said in telephone interview from the prison, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles. “But the pay was much higher and the benefits were much better.”
Wang made $382,519 in 2010, including overtime and extra- duty compensation. He was one of almost 100 doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners in the state who got at least $300,000 last year to work behind bars, according to the controller’s office.
California prison doctors earn more than counterparts in New York, Texas and Florida, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The highest-paid physician in New York’s penal system in 2010, for instance, collected $200,147, including overtime, according to the state comptroller’s office.
The most that a Texas prison doctor can make is about $220,000 annually, corrections officials said. The top compensation for a medical employee in Florida was $230,711 in fiscal year 2011, with no overtime, a corrections department spokeswoman said.
“The job markets recognize that these are not nice places to work,” said Stuart Bussey, president of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, the Oakland-based labor organization for prison health professionals. “These doctors are working in places that are not desirable to live, working up to 12 hours a day and with clients that they would never have to work with in private practice. It’s almost like war pay.”
Just watch Lock Up on MSNBC on Friday or Saturday and you will understand that practicing in California’s overcrowded prisons is not desirable, in any sense of the word.