Post Date: January 9, 2018
Contact: Rabiah Burks
Medical Parole in Massachusetts: National Organizations Weigh In
Today, members of the Campaign for Compassionate Release, a national group of criminal justice reform, health policy, human rights, and faith-based organizations, sent a letter to Massachusetts’ legislators urging them to expand the use of medical parole. The Campaign was formed to build support for the expansion of early release options for very sick and elderly state and federal prisoners.
“We commend Massachusetts legislators for including improvements to medical parole in the House and Senate criminal justice reform bills. Providing for compassionate release recognizes that a prisoner’s illness, disability, or imminent death can make the continued service of a prison sentence inhumane and senseless,” said Mary Price, General Counsel of FAMM. “Prisoners who are incapacitated or terminally ill are among the least likely to re-offend, and the most expensive to incarcerate.”
The legislators to whom today’s letter was sent make up the conference committee that was tasked with working out the differences between the House- and Senate-passed criminal justice reform packages. Both bills contained new but differing medical parole provisions.
The letter, signed by FAMM, Aleph Institute, Disability Law Center Massachusetts, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, The National Disability Rights Network, and R Street Institute, among others, favors aspects of the Senate’s version of the bill, which includes a more expedient way of processing applicants, and considers prisoners to be eligible for medical parole if their prognosis of death is within 18 months.
The letter also commends the work of both the House and Senate to keep track of the program’s progress by requiring data collection on medical parole. They also have made a concerted effort to ensure that prisoners are aware of the eligibility requirements, and allow loved ones or lawyers to file on their behalf if they are too ill to apply on their own.
The Campaign for Compassionate Release is a coalition of diverse organizations who support the creation, expansion, and robust use of federal and state programs that grant early release to prisoners facing extreme circumstances, such as a terminal or age-related illness.
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