Governor Signs Bill To Allow Medical Parole for Incapacitated Inmates
On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed a bill authorizing state prisons to release physically incapacitated and comatose inmates on medical parole, the Los Angeles Times reports (McGreevy/Dolan, Los Angeles Times, 9/29).
Details of the Law
SB 1399, by Sen. Mark Leno (D- San Francisco), allows medical parole for inmates who require constant medical attention and are not considered threats. Inmates released on medical parole could be sent back to prison if their health condition shows significant improvement (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 9/28).
According to Schwarzenegger, the new law will help many inmates qualify for federal financial assistance to help cover their medical expenses, thus shifting costs away from California (Office of the Governor release, 9/28). The governor said the move could help the state reduce prison health care spending by about $200 million annually (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 9/28).
Schwarzenegger also noted that the law includes a screening process to ensure that the medical parole law does not compromise public safety. The state Board of Parole Hearings would need to approve all medical releases and inmates sentenced to death or life without parole would not qualify, the governor said.
Thirty-two inmates likely will qualify for medical parole initially, according to the office of California'sÂ court-appointed federal prison health care receiver. Of those, 21 currently reside in nursing homes or hospitals.
As many as 1,000 inmates eventually might be eligible for medical parole, according to Leno (Los Angeles Times, 9/29).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.