California parole officials say the state is ready to begin the early release of elderly and frail prisoners who meet new criteria for parole, the Los Angeles Times reports. The program’s details were released by the Board of Parole Hearings on Monday. They were ordered by a panel of federal judges as part of required steps the state must take to reduce prison crowding to acceptable levels. Inmates over 60 who have spent at least 25 years in prison will be eligible for release if they are not sentenced to death or serving life without parole sentences. Those hearings are to begin in October.
Prisoners whose health conditions require they receive skilled nursing care will also be eligible to be moved to health care or nursing facilities. but if they recover they face a return trip to prison. Hearings under the new rules, which reflect an expansion of existing medical parole, are to begin by July 1. Gov. Jerry Brown’s finance department estimated that the state would place 100 prisoners into health care facilities under the expanded program, and release 85 prisoners who met criteria for elderly parole. In both cases, parole officials stressed that commissioners are to consider public safety risks before agreeing to release a prisoner.