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This week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bills 4129 through 4132, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, to allow the Michigan Department of Corrections to parole seriously ill and medically frail prisoners so that they can obtain care at medical facilities or nursing homes instead of prison facilities, saving state taxpayer dollars on the cost of care.
“This bill package will ensure that our state can properly manage treatment options for our aging inmate population while reducing the cost to taxpayers,” Whitmer said. “We continue to make the much-needed changes to our criminal justice system, and this is yet another example of the progress we can make when we work together in a bipartisan fashion to get things done.”
Currently, Michigan is facing a growing elderly prison population, which requires increased medical attention to care for serious physical, terminal or mental illnesses. The cost of that care fell upon the Michigan Department of Corrections because federal law prohibits inmates from receiving treatment under Medicaid or Medicare while in prison. Under the new law, the state is expected to save taxpayer dollars by paroling medically frail prisoners to facilities that accept federal health programs.
House Bill 4129, sponsored by Rep. Beau LaFave (HD-108), allows medically frail prisoners to be paroled to receive medical attention, but does not extend parole to prisoners convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct or any crime punishable by life without parole.
House Bill 4130, sponsored by Rep. Tyrone Carter (HD-6), requires the parole board to notify the prosecutor and victim if a medically frail prisoner is being considered for parole, and gives the prosecutor or victim the option to file an objection and seek an independent medical examination of the prisoner.
House Bill 4131, sponsored by Rep. Beth Griffin (HD-66), creates a misdemeanor for an individual that assists a medically frail parolee to break the terms and conditions of their parole.
House Bill 4132, sponsored by Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden (HD-35), changes the Corrections Code to allow medically frail prisoners, who are convicted of certain offenses, to be paroled before they have served their minimum sentence.
The Department of Corrections estimates that approximately 20 to 30 prisoners could be eligible for medical parole under the new law and another 450 to 500 prisoners could become eligible in the future based on their chronic care needs.
House Bills 4129 through 4132 will take effect 90 days after their enactment.