FAMM supports Pennsylvania medical release bill

Contact:John Norton,

FAMM supports Pennsylvania medical release bill 

HARRISBURG – Rep. Kail (R-Beaver and Washington Counties) has introduced HB 2634, a bill that would create a meaningful medical release mechanism for incarcerated individuals in Pennsylvania state prisons and save taxpayers significant sums of money.

“FAMM strongly supports this bill, which addresses a long-standing problem in Pennsylvania’s prisons – the very expensive continued incarceration of sick people who pose no threat to public safety,” said FAMM Pennsylvania State Policy Director Maria Goellner. “We applaud Rep. Kail for his leadership on making the state’s medical release process a truly safe and effective mechanism.”

HB 2634 is needed because of the extremely narrow standard in the current medical release law. Approximately 20% of people in state prisons are over the age of 50, and many have chronic health conditions that are expensive to treat — up to $182,000 a year for a single person who needs personal or skilled nursing. That cost is more than triple the cost of incarcerating a healthy person.

“The current law is broken. It’s far too limited and never used. Many sick people in prison can be safely sent home, if we have a process that works better,” Goellner says.

Despite the high costs and low rates of recidivism for older people, medical release is a rarity in Pennsylvania. Only 9 people were released for medical reasons from early 2010 to mid-2015, while about 850 people died in prison.

“HB 2634 can fix Pennsylvania’s ineffective medical release mechanism,” said Kail. “We need a safe way to get very expensive, very sick people out of our prisons so we can spend the savings on fighting crime and helping today’s crime victims. The bill was inspired by the bipartisan First Step Act signed into law by President Donald Trump, which successfully tackled the same issue in federal prisons. Courts can grant or deny release only after considering all important factors, including safety and the opinions of any victims. And medical parole is still parole, so released people will still be monitored in the community.”


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safely reduce incarceration, save taxpayer dollars, and keep families together. Founded in 1991, FAMM has secured bold sentencing and prison reform across the country while elevating the voices of directly impacted individuals and families. | | @FAMMFoundation

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