Texas prisons should consider freeing more feeble inmates and quit holding them until they die, say legislative budget writers, according to the Dallas Morning News. Legislative analysts criticized current practices, saying they sock taxpayers with huge costs for gravely disabled and geriatric inmates' medical care. In 2009, only 59 of 337 inmates recommended for medical release won discharge by the parole board. That year, 74 inmates died of natural causes.
A committee of mostly doctors that oversees inmate health care said inmates 55 or older last year made up 8 percent of the incarcerated population but racked up 31 percent of hospital costs. Prison director Brad Livingston called medical parole a complicated issue. While studies estimate that a 55-year-old in prison is likely to have the medical problems of a 65-year-old on the outside, Livingston said “it's hard to take that group  and suggest there's a specific solution because of their age.” A report last month 1,000 inmates each year are deemed potentially appropriate for medical release. After violent offenders are weeded out and further study, prison officials forward about 350 of them to the parole board. Fewer than one in five is granted “medically recommended intensive supervision.”