Medical parole could save Calif. millions

June 16, 2011 at 7:52 AM   |   0 comments

LOS ANGELES, June 16 (UPI) -- A California prisoner could become the first inmate released from state prison on a medical parole, officials said.

The California Board of Parole Hearings Wednesday granted an application for medical parole from Craig Lemke, 48, and he could become the first inmate freed under a plan that could result in millions in savings to the state, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Officials didn't say what Lemke's medical condition is, but the state now spends nearly $800,000 in security fees annually for his treatment at a hospital outside prison walls, in addition to medical costs. He was sentenced to 68 years in prison for a home invasion attack on an elderly couple in 2006.

If he were paroled, the state would no longer have to pay guards to secure his hospital room and his family or another agency would pay for his medical treatment.

Officials have identified 25 "permanently medically incapacitated" inmates being treated at outside hospitals who might qualify for parole.

Cost to treat them is estimated at $50 million annually, with up to $21 million of that going to pay the salaries of guards and security.

The parole board has 120 days to finalize its decision on Lemke. Inmates sentenced to death, or serving life without parole, are ineligible for the program.

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