By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, May 18, 2017, the Alabama House of Representatives passed SB87 which would allow Alabama’s oldest prisoners to apply for medical paroles.
State Representative Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) said on social media, “SB87 dealing with medical parole for prisoners has passed. We are now adjourned for the night. We come back in tomorrow morning at 9am. Have a blessed night!”
State Representative Tim Wadsworth (R-Arley) said on social media, “SB87 Modification of Medical Parole Bill – eligibility for release of certain prisoners after they have served certain time if suffering chronic life-threatening illnesses.”
House Democrats, angry because they did not get their way on redistricting, are filibustering almost everything so they required that the bill be read at length.
SB87 is sponsored by state Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose).
Sen. Pittman said when the bill was in committee that Medical care for prison is costing us $100 million a year and based on pending lawsuits that might not be enough.
Sen. Pittman said that 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.
Thursday was the 29th legislative day of the 2017 session. Friday will be the last day of the Legislative Session. By law the legislature can only meet 30 days in a legislative session. There is just one regular Legislative Session a year.
Pittman is a candidate for the US Senate position that became vacant when Sen. Jeff Session was confirmed as US Attorney General.
The massive prison construction bill appears to have failed for the second year in a row, thus sentencing reforms and bills like SB87 are the only bills that have passed dealing with the State’s overcrowded prison system.