Under the new law, inmates deemed incapacitated could be released on parole early. Democratic Senator Mark Leno wrote the measure. He says it will save the state money during tough budget times:
"35% of all prison guard overtime is watching incapacitated inmates at their bedside."
Leno says there are roughly 12-hundred inmates who may fit that description. He says once a prisoner's released on parole, he or she no longer requires two armed guards. Leno says the state will also be able to access federal money to help pay for their health care:
"The intent of it is to save California taxpayers upwards of 200 million dollars annually that we are spending in the department of corrections for the health care of seriously ill and often comatose inmates."
Under the law, the chief medical officer at a given prison would nominate an inmate for the so-called medical parole, but the release would have to be approved by the board of parole hearings. The legislation was sponsored by federal receiver Clark Kelso, who's in charge of improving health care in the state's prisons. But it was opposed by many Republicans, who called it the early release of inmates. Some considered it an affront to crime victims.