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Bills would allow terminal, medically frail felons to be paroled

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation

The state Department of Corrections says Michigan taxpayers spend millions of dollars on healthcare for terminally ill and medically fragile inmates. The department wants the Legislature to adopt bills that would allow the Michigan Parole Board to grant medical releases for prisoners who would otherwise not be eligible.

Chris Gautz is with the Michigan Department of Corrections. He says these are felons who are so frail they no longer pose a threat to the public.

“They would receive a medical parole through the parole board similar to what a traditional parole would be, but they would parole to a specific facility that would be able to house them and take care of their medical needs," Gautz says.

Gautz says there are 100 to 150 inmates in Michigan prisons who might be eligible, depending on how the Legislature writes the rules. 

“Michigan has the highest percentage of prisoners over the age of 50 over the country, and so our population is continuing to age, and we’re going to see more and more cases of individuals who are medically frail who no longer pose a risk to the public,” Gautz says.

He says these are often inmates who have conditions that require them to be regularly moved between prisons and hospitals. 

The governor already has the authority to commute sentences for medical reasons.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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