J. Clark Kelso, the man in charge of upgrading the quality of California prison health care, has an idea for taxpayers: medical parole. The Sacramento Bee says Kelso suggests that the state could save $213 million over five years by paroling just 32 inmates identified as severely incapacitated. Twenty-one of those 32 inmates are in nursing facilities or hospitals outside prisons, which requires spending for expensive guard time – including overtime – as well as huge health care costs.
“These people are not even capable of realizing they’re being punished,” said Kelso aid Luis Patiño. “Society becomes the victim, because it’s paying the cost.” The 11 other severely incapacitated inmates are inside prison health centers, where their annual medical bills average $114,395 each. State Sen. Mark Leno has introduced a bill to create medical parole. He said 1,300 inmates’ health care costs exceed $100,000 a year, and that up to 700 prisoners could qualify for a possible medical parole under his bill. To some, $213 million might not seem much, but it’s a lot compared with the $310 million that prisons are spending this year on all educational, vocational training , and substance-abuse programs for the state’s 170,000 inmates.