By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, March 8, 2017, the Senate General Fund Committee approved Senate Bill 87, which would set up medical parole for sick and aging Alabama prisoners. SB87 is sponsored by State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose).
Sen. Pittman said that prison medical care is costing us $100 million a year and based on pending lawsuits that might not be enough.
Sen. Pittman said, “Paroling them will make them eligible for Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Last year we brought forward the Medical furlough Act where prisoners would go to nursing homes and hospitals for care and then could return to the prison when and if their illness improved. We have had several meetings where we tried to get care providers to agree to accept the prisoners. It was difficult to get private partners to commit to that. Under the Medical Parole act, they would no longer be prisoners and that would remove the stigma of prisoners in the nursing home.”
Pittman said there is also the possibility of special facilities popping up to take these paroled prisoners. There is already a facility in Georgia. Part of the solution is that when people get a combination of illnesses that we get these prisoners paroled.
Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Sheffield) said, “Some of the private nursing homes would take paroled prisoners that wouldn’t take furloughed prisoners.” Stutts said that it was possible that the prisoners could turn down the parole.
Sen. Pittman dismissed the public safety concenrs and said, “I am 56 and all of the crimes I used to think about committing I don’t think about committing and if I tried I couldn’t do them anyway.” Pittman said, “We left out capital offenses and sexual crimes from being eligible for the medical paroles.”
Pittman said that with the new prison bill we could have a pod designed outside of the fences for the infirmed waiting for transfer. This would make them eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.
The committee gave a favorable report for the Medical Parole Act.
The bill next goes to consideration by the full Senate.