On February 17, the House Appropriations Committee voted to approve an amended package of medical parole bills, HB 5078, 5079. and 5081.
The full House of Representatives voted out the three CAPPS-supported bills on May 4, 2016. The bills were then referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where they are still pending after an initial “no” vote on May 24.
Barbara Levine, CAPPS research and policy director, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of the package on May, 24.
Highlights of Levine’s testimony:
CAPPS has long advocated the re-enactment of medical paroles. We are grateful to Reps. Pscholka and Pagel for taking the lead in restoring the ability of the board to do what is safe, compassionate and cost-effective on a case-by-case basis. And we are grateful to Sen. Jones for taking the bills up so promptly. HB 5078 and 5079 establish an excellent process:
• They define “medically fragile” in a realistic way that allows the board to address various disabilities while keeping the potential threat to society as the core consideration.
• They provide for appropriate involvement by prosecutors and victims.
• They do not require public hearings so that people who are infirm, in pain or incapable of remembering what they’ve done can be questioned about their crimes.
• They define “medical facility” with sufficient flexibility to allow for the placement that is most suitable for the individual parolee. • They ensure that people remain under supervision until they reach what would have been their earliest parole date for the sentence they are serving.
• They require that people who have been released continue to meet the criteria for a medical parole unless they have otherwise become eligible for parole.
• They protect the safety of vulnerable, medically fragile parolees by requiring the board to monitor their condition and by requiring any medical facility used by the Department to ensure the safety of its residents.
Links to the three bills currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Note: HB 5080, which CAPPS opposed, was not voted out of the House.
Information on action to take in support of the bills will be included in the next CAPPS electronic newsletter.