Bill Would Allow Early Release For Dying Inmates
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Aired 6/12/12 on KPBS News.
A bill approved by the State Senate would allow dying inmates in county jails to get compassionate release.
SAN DIEGO The California Senate has approved a bill that would let dying or physically incapacitated inmates get out of county jails early. Supporters say it would save counties money, but critics call it too lax.
Last year, California began to shift low-level offenders from state prisons to county jails. As a result, counties now have to care for more elderly and disabled inmates.
Dr. Earl Goldstein is the San Diego County Sheriff's Medical Director. He said the healthcare costs can really add up.
"You've got physician cost, you've got nursing costs, and then if they're sent to the emergency room, you've got transportation costs, you've got costs in the emergency room," Dr. Goldstein explained. "If they're sent to specialty care, you have the cost of the specialty consultation itself."
The Senate bill would allow inmates with less than six months to live to be released. Inmates that needed 24-hour care for help with daily activities like eating could get medical probation.
A different law took effect last year that grants medical parole for state prisoners. Since then, only 38 state prison inmates have been granted early release under the law.