Download>> HB 5078, 5079, 5081 written testimony
After passing the House by an overwhelming bipartisan 95-13 vote, the medical parole package stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 24.
Republican Senators Colbeck, Shuitmaker and Rocca cast the three “no” votes on the five-member committee. However, the Committee also agreed to reconsider the vote at a subsequent hearing.
Details about the medical parole package
The medical parole bills, sponsored by Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville), allow the parole board to release low-risk, medically frail prisoners to medical care facilities. An estimated 120 prisoners a year could be eligible for medical paroles, at a savings the House Fiscal Agency estimates at $2.4 million annually. (Issues related to Medicaid eligibility for these parolees still need to be resolved.)
- HB 5078 establishes eligibility criteria and procedures for medical paroles.
- HB 5079 provides technical amendments to a related statute.
- HB 5081 makes it a misdemeanor to help a medical parolee abscond.
Many of those who supported the bills hope that housing prisoners in care facilities will improve the quality of life for parolees and make it easier for families and friends to visit and obtain updated medical information. Once the bills are enacted, advocates will be monitoring the implementation and actual impact on prisoners and their families.