"The Alaska Parole Board has a proven track record in their decision-making abilities."
- Rep. Harris
"An Act relating to special medical parole and to prisoners who are severely medically or cognitively disabled; relating to a severe acute respiratory syndrome control program; and providing for an effective date."
House Bill 229 gives the Alaska Board of Parole the flexibility to grant or deny medical parole to applicants. This allows the board to release severely disabled prisoners from confinement and gives the Department of Corrections relief from the high cost of providing medical service for these prisoners.
The Alaska Parole Board has a proven track record in their decision-making abilities. Over the past seven years, the Alaska Board of Parole has granted parole to approximately 45% of all discretionary parole applicants. Less than 8% of these parolees have violated their conditions (i.e., missed a meeting with a parole officer) and approximately 1% committed a new offense. This number is particularly compelling when compared to the 77% return rate of mandatory parole violators. Two applicants were considered for special medical parole in 2002 and both were denied.
When making a determination for Medical Parole the following are considered:
Department of Corrections' medical report
The seriousness of the criminal offense
Parole Officer/DOC recommendation
Will not pose a threat to the public if released
House Bill 229 will allow the Alaska Board of Parole and the Department of Corrections to work together to determine an appropriate and cost effective release plan. The cost of health care to the Department of Corrections has significantly increased over the last few years. Some of the factors causing these increases are the increased population of terminally ill inmates and hospitalization of prisoners for long-term assisted care. This bill will give the department and the Parole Board another tool to ensure public safety and at the same time, help the department reduce the rising costs associated with providing medical service for prisoners afflicted with debilitating physical and mental disabilities.
An amendment was added in the Senate Finance Committee that allows the Department of Health and Social Services to treat the SARS virus in the same manner as it treats tuberculosis. This amendment was adopted at the request of the Administration.