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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 7, 2017 11:31 AM
From: Representative Stephen Kinsey and Rep. Isabella V. Fitzgerald
To: All House members

Colleagues, please join me in sponsoring a legislative proposal that would amend Title 61 (Prisons & Parole) to authorize medical parole and early release of certain elderly inmates.

It is important for you to know that the cost of incarcerating the aging prison population in the Commonwealth is exorbitant. According to Department of Corrections (Department) statistics, in 2001, there were 1,892 inmates 55 years of age or older. By September 2017, the number of geriatric inmates more than tripled to 6,458. The Department estimates that the cost of incarceration for geriatric inmates is three to nine times more than it is for younger inmates.

Consequently, my legislative proposal would task the Department, in consultation with the Board of Probation and Parole, to establish a medical parole and early release program for elderly and infirmed inmates and certain other elderly inmates. Considering the expertise that Area Agencies on Aging could provide, the proposal would further direct the Department to consult with the Department of Aging to identify community care options for elderly and infirm inmates, such as identification of and connection with healthcare practitioners, transportation, housing, case management, benefits counseling, acquiring photo identification, and other services.

As defined in the proposal, inmates eligible for medical parole would be, among other things, an “elderly and infirmed inmate” 55 years of age or older who has been diagnosed by the inmate’s primary care physician associated with the correctional institution as a “permanently medical incapacitated inmate” or a “terminally ill inmate.” Inmates who could petition for early release would be elderly inmates 60 years of age or older who have served at least 25% of their sentences and who have no current or prior convictions for a violent offense. The proposal will outline the violent offenses that would make an inmate ineligible for medical parole or early release and provide the criteria that the Board of Probation and Parole would use in reviewing petitions and determining inmates’ eligibility for medical parole or early release, including requirements for the notification of and securing statements from crime victims, prosecuting attorneys, and the sentencing court.

I thank you in advance for joining me as a sponsor of this legislative proposal.

Introduced as HB2046