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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 5, 2019 02:45 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Achieving Efficiencies and Cost Reductions By Offering Medical Parole for Pennsylvania’s Oldest, Sickest, and Most Expensive Inmates
As noted during at a recent Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, inmates in need of geriatric care, or who are suffering from certain severe and/or terminal illnesses, could be more effectively, efficiently, and humanely treated if the Commonwealth were to modify its existing procedures and adopt a “medical” or “compassionate” parole program.

Currently, inmates who suffer from a serious or terminal illness can petition the court that originally sentenced them and ask that they be transferred to a hospital, long-term nursing facility or hospice location for treatment. Unfortunately, the process is unnecessarily time consuming and, as a result, rarely used. Transitioning to a useable medical parole process would reduce our state obligation by allowing for the drawdown of federal Medicare and Medicaid dollars to pay for this care.

My plan would authorize the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, in consultation with the Department of Corrections, to grant medical parole under certain circumstances, and after appropriate consideration of the following:
  • The type and seriousness of the crime involved
  • The length of sentence served
  • The age of the inmate
  • The mental and physical condition of the inmate
  • Whether the release of the inmate would pose any danger to society
  • Input provided by victims or the Office of Victim Advocate
Individuals granted medical parole would be released subject to such other terms and conditions, as the board would deem appropriate. The process would also require notification to both the original sentencing court and district attorney.

I hope you will join me in supporting this important initiative.