California inmates are dying of drug overdoses at nearly triple the national rate.

It's unclear whether the tough steps state officials took this year to stop illicit drugs from getting into prisons are having any effect, though they are prompting criticism from civil rights advocates.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is spending $8 million this year on drug-detecting scanners and a new breed of drug-sniffing dogs while also employing strip searches on visitors suspected of carrying drugs.

Corrections officials believe the stepped-up efforts are discouraging smuggling, but the data that's available doesn't support that.

Concerned lawmakers who oversee state prisons included language in the California budget plan passed this week that would end the searches and require an evaluation of the department's other efforts.