Michigan’s prison population is aging. It is the oldest in the country with an average age of 39. Nearly a quarter of all prisoners are over 50 years old and many have complex health problems that are getting steadily worse – and more expensive to treat.
The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) reported last year that as many as 850 people under their custody, approximately two percent of the population, may be medically frail. Medically frail people are unable to perform basic tasks of daily living, such as getting dressed, using the bathroom, or eating, without assistance.
Representative Dave Pagel (R – District 78) and Representative Peter Lucido (R – District 36) have sponsored legislation that permits medical paroles for the medically frail.
- House Bill (HB) 4101 allows the parole board to use their parole discretion once someone is determined to be medically frail.
- HB 4102 clarifies that any incarcerated person can be eligible for the special medical parole, even prior to their first parole eligibility date.
On February 28, 2018, modified versions of both bills were voted out of the House Appropriations Subcommittee with overwhelming support. The significant modifications to HB 4102 include:
- Establishing a process for prosecutors to object to the parole of individuals that have not served their minimum sentence and litigate whether they are “medically frail”; and
- Excluding people with first degree murder and first degree criminal sexual conduct convictions.
Despite our continued support of the bills, we are very concerned the amendments will slow the process for medical parole and exclude many medically frail incarcerated people.
However, the bills still are a step in the right direction. The legislation will allow nursing and end-of-life care to be placed in the hands of medical professionals at a significant savings to taxpayers.