California denies parole to medically incapacitated inmate in 1st test of new state law

The parole board rejected paralyzed inmate Steven Martinez's request for medical parole.
The parole board rejected paralyzed inmate Steven Martinez's request for medical parole. California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation

California’s parole board has denied the release of a paralyzed inmate at Corcoran State Prison Tuesday. It was the first time the state considered paroling a medically incapacitated inmate under a new law that took effect this year that aims to save California millions of dollars in costly prison medical care.

Inmate Steven Martinez is serving 157 years to life for raping and beating a woman he ran down with his vehicle outside a San Diego nightclub.

In prison, Martinez got into a knife fight that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Now he’s incapacitated and in need of 24-hour care, the main criteria for medical parole.

But California’s parole board’s said it could not recommend Martinez for parole. Three years ago, and again last year, the board denied Martinez’ requests for compassionate release on the grounds that he “remains a violent person capable of using others to carry out his threats.”

Prison nurses have reported that Martinez has threatened them with violence even after he became paralyzed.

A spokeswoman for the federal receiver in charge of California prison medical care says that office has identified 40 inmates who qualify for medical parole. California’s parole board has scheduled the next two hearings for medically incapacitated inmates at San Quentin State Prison in June.

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