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California medical parole approved for three men under new law

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California's three strikes law has been around since 1994. Since the law was passed, no inmate serving a 25 year to life three strikes sentence has received parole through a California Board of Parole hearing, until this week. Wednesday the Board of Parole Hearings granted parole to a 48-year-old man who was sentenced in 2007 to 68 years in prison under the California three strikes law after a conviction for a home invasion robbery.

The parole board approved the release of the inmate under a new California law aimed at reducing prison costs. The law allows the board to consider medical parole for inmates who are so ill that the state considers the inmates are no longer a threat to the community.

Prison officials reportedly refused to discuss to specific details about the man's health. The man is in a long term care facility. Guarding the inmate at the facility reportedly costs $750,000 a year; medical costs to cover his care are an additional expense the state seeks to save through the medical parole.

The costs of medical coverage shift to the families of medical parolees, if they can afford to pay. The medical costs are shifted from the corrections department to other government programs if the paroled inmates and their families are not able to pay. The law allows for the inmates to return to prison should the medical parolee's health condition improve.

Thursday the board approved medical parole applications of two other inmates. A 78-year-old man serving a 27 year sentence and a 72-year-old man sentenced to 24 years on felony convictions, including a California burglary were granted medical parole.

Previously, the board denied medical parole to a paralyzed man who was convicted of rape. The board reportedly determined the man continues to pose a threat to the community because he can still speak.

Source: Fox News, "Three California Inmates Released on 'Medical Parole'," 16 June 2011

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