Davis Should Sign ‘Compassionate Release’ Bill, Chronicle Says
Gov. Gray Davis (D) should sign a measure, already passed by the House and expected to pass the Senate, that would make it easier for terminally ill inmates to be released from prison and "die at home among families and friends," a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states. Under current law, prison officials do not have to notify family members if an inmate is terminally ill, and "compassionate paroles" are "limited to prisoners who have six months or less to live." The "compassionate release" act (AB 675), sponsored by Assembly member Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), would allow relatives of inmates who have one year or less to live to be notified and begin "the process of apply[ing] for early releases." Compassionate release would be available only to terminally ill inmates who are not serving life sentences or murder convictions. The editorial agrees with Migden, who says that the "three-strikes law and the advancing age of baby boomers [who are] graying the prison population [are] swelling the ranks of inmates who might qualify for a compassionate release." However, noting that Davis has "balked at similar parole issues," the editorial says that "no one knows what will happen when [the bill] lands on the governor's desk." The editorial concludes, "If a sense of compassion does not compel the governor -- and it rarely does on criminal justice issues -- perhaps he will consider that it often costs as much as $100,000 a year to incarcerate a terminally ill inmate" (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.