Medical Probation Bill for County Jails Sent to Governor; Saves Counties Millions of Dollars?
As requested by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, the Legislature approved a bill that would allow dying or physically incapacitated inmates to be released from county jails early. The so-called “medical probation” bill gives county sheriffs the option of releasing inmates who have less than six months to live, otherwise known as compassionate release. Realignment has not only left counties with crowded jails but also higher health care costs due to the care required for more elderly and disabled inmates. Under the medical probation legislation, it is expected that counties could save millions of dollars each year despite the fact the terms of the legislation would apply to relatively few prisoners.
The proposal is hardly unprecedented, as a state program took a similar approach prior to realignment’s implementation. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, wrote the bill and he commented, “We should not be squandering scarce public dollars on guarding low-level offenders who are so severely incapacitated that they require around-the-clock medical care.” Many of the inmates who would be impacted by the bill are in a coma or confined to a bed. The LA Times notes that “The bill allows a sheriff to give medical parole to an inmate if a doctor determines the person is physically incapacitated and does not pose a risk to society.”
The bill has been sent to the governor and it remains to be seen whether he’ll sign it into law. The Center of Investigative Reporting has put together a report on medical parole, which you can see here: http://www.californiacountynews.org/2012/09/medical-probation-bill-for-c....