North Carolina and Alabama have joined a growing list of states that allow the release of dying or infirm prisoners to cut prison health care costs, reports USA Today. Alabama’s law, in effect Sept. 1, will allow inmates who are permanently incapacitated or terminally ill to be furloughed. It will also allow for the release of inmates 55 or older who have life threatening illnesses. About 125 of the state’s 25,000 inmates will be eligible. Prisons Commissioner Richard Allen said inmates considered for parole will be “the frailest of the frail and sickest of the sick,” Allen said. North Carolina’s legislation took effect June 10. In both states, inmates convicted of capital offenses and most sex crimes aren’t eligible.
Thirty-six states have some program allowing for the early release of dying or infirm prisoners. Wisconsin added a program in March; Michigan and Montana did so last year. In programs known as medical furlough, humanitarian parole, or compassionate release, states rely on boards of pardons and paroles to follow up on inmates released for medical reasons. Alabama figures show terminally ill or infirm inmates cost the system about $60,000-$65,000 per year per inmate.