Senator Unsatisfied With Rollout of California’s Medical Parole Law
Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is protesting the way prison officials have been carrying out a state law (SB 1399) that allows inmates deemed medically incapacitated to receive parole, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
SB 1399, which Leno introduced, aims to reduce state spending on prison health care by millions of dollars.
According to the law, inmates who are "permanently medically incapacitated with a medical condition" and "unable to perform activities of basic daily living" can be released if they are found not to be a threat to public safety. If their condition improves or they violate any terms of the parole, their parole can be revoked.
Leno, PrisonÂ ReceiverÂ Weigh In
Leno recently sent the state Board of Parole Hearings a letter claiming the board ignored language in the law and "unilaterally" decided to allow a 120-day review of medical parole decisions.
Leno also asked why the board has not scheduled medical parole hearings for 19 inmates who prison physicians said could be eligible for the parole program.
He wrote that his bill created a "new form of parole to address the specific situation of the permanently medically incapacitated inmate" with its own separate penal code, eligibility qualifications and procedures.
J. Clark Kelso -- the state's federally appointed prison receiver -- also wrote a letter to the board stating that its interpretation of the law conflicts with the intentions of lawmakers.
Prison Official Response
Oscar Hidalgo, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said state officials do not believe the law bans the agency from evaluating a parole decision.
He said that the board has sped up the process of reviewing inmates' cases, adding that the first three individuals approved for medical parole were released within eight days of their hearings (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23).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.