California Approves Medical Paroles, Scales Back Jail Releases


California prisons may release comatose and physically incapacitated inmates on medical parole under a measure approved by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that is expected to save California at least $46 million annually, reports the Los Angeles Times. He also signed a scaled-back early release program at county jail.

Schwarzenegger said the medical parole bill includes a screening process to make sure public safety is not jeopardized by the early release of inmates, many of whom are guarded 24 hours a day even though they are confined to hospital beds. Thirty-two inmates are likely to be immediate candidates for medical parole. They include 21 housed in nursing homes or hospitals at a cost of about $5,800 a day. On the early release of county jail inmates, some law enforcement officials had complained that offenders were flooding the streets, causing public safety concerns. The new law reduces the good-time/work-time credits earned by county jail inmates from one-half to one-third for those convicted of misdemeanors, so inmates will stay behind bars longer.

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