Latest budget still includes expanded eligibility for prison medical release
Current law dictating the medical release of old or sick incarcerated people is very narrow: they must be so sick that they’re likely to die within six months, have a condition that makes them “permanently and totally disabled,” or be at least 65 years old and have chronic, debilitating diseases related to aging.
Provisions on Page 436 of the 611-page budget would modestly expand those criteria, allowing terminally ill people within nine months of death, as well as 55-year-olds who suffer from a disease that makes them medically incapacitated, to be considered for medical release by the state’s Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.
Those who meet the criteria must also be so incapacitated that they “pose no or low risk to public safety” in order to qualify for medical release.
Those who are released from prison under medical release are not simply sent home. They are still subject to state supervision until when their sentence would have expired had they remained incarcerated.
Like much of the country, North Carolina’s prison population is growing older as those given long sentences in previous decades remain behind bars. Incarcerated people’s medical needs tend to get more complex as they grow older — which makes it more costly for the prison system to care for them.