Calif. prison officials to hold parole hearings for incapacitated inmates

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California prison officials have agreed to hold parole hearings for 10 sick inmates to decide if it’s safe to release them to community hospitals. Prison officials are allowed to do that under a new state law that took effect in January.

The law allows prison officials to parole inmates so sick or disabled that they pose no threat to society. State lawmakers passed the law to save money.

California spends $800,000 a year for round-the-clock care and prison guards for each medically incapacitated inmate. Some of those inmates are comatose, others are partially paralyzed. Putting them on parole and transferring them out of prison to community hospitals would make them eligible for federally funded medical care.

Under the new state law, medically incapacitated inmates whose health improved would be sent back to prison. Clark Kelso - the federal receiver responsible for improving medical care in state prisons - has identified 10 inmates he says qualify for medical parole under the new law.

The law excludes Death Row inmates or prisoners serving life without parole. A Corrections spokeswoman says an initial review of the candidates shows two might not meet the requirements for medical parole.