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Bipartisan bills would allow ailing inmates to be released on parole

Medically frail inmates would be considered for parole under bipartisan bills in the state House.

Inmates would undergo an evaluation by a physician chosen by the Department of Corrections.

If granted parole, supporters say sick prisoners would be transferred to other facilities that are better equipped to treat them.

“These are folks that the other prisoners can take advantage of,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka (R-Stevensville). “And we think there’s a more humane way to deal with their situation and possibly save some money for the state as well.”

Pscholka chairs the state House Appropriations Committee.

He says frail inmates are especially expensive to house in the prison system, costing the state up to $100,000 a year. Although, he admits at least some of that money saved in the corrections budget would be shifted to the Medicaid system.

House Bills 5078, 5079, and 5080 were introduced on the day before lawmakers’ three-week break for deer hunting and Thanksgiving.

The legislation is part of a larger effort to overhaul Michigan’s $2 billion-a-year corrections system.

The state House recently approved a bill that would make it easier for inmates to be released on parole if they’re unlikely to commit new crimes.

That bill is now stalled in the state Senate.

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