Medical Parole Hearings
A medical parole hearing is a hearing to determine if a person who is permanently medically incapacitated should be placed in a licensed health care facility in the community. Eligible persons are referred to the Board for an expanded medical parole hearing.
The medical parole hearing process was first enacted by Senate Bill 1399, which went into effect in 2011. The state was later ordered to expand the medical parole hearing process by a federal court order issued in February 2014 in the Coleman/Plata class action law suit. The resulting medical parole hearing process is commonly referred to as expanded medical parole.
Persons Who Are Eligible for an Expanded Medical Parole Hearing
Incarcerated persons must meet certain criteria to be eligible for referral to the Board for an expanded medical parole hearing. First, the head physician of the institution where the person is housed must determine that the person suffers from a significant and permanent medical condition resulting in the person being permanently medically incapacitated. Additionally, the person must be unable to perform activities of basic daily living such that the person qualifies for placement in a licensed health care facility in the community. Persons serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or serving a death sentence are not eligible for expanded medical parole.
When Persons Are Considered for Expanded Medical Parole
Medical personnel at the prison where the person is housed, the incarcerated person , or the person’s family or attorney may request that the person’s primary care physician in prison consider the person for expanded medical parole at any time. The primary care physician’s assessment will be considered by both the chief medical executive and the classification and parole representative at the institution where the person is housed when determining if the person should be referred to the Board.
What to Expect at an Expanded Medical Parole Hearing
Expanded medical parole hearings are conducted like parole suitability hearings, with a few exceptions. First, expanded medical parole hearings can be conducted without the incarcerated person present. The person may attend, but they do not have a right to attend. Second, the Board will be determining whether the person will pose an unreasonable risk to public safety if placed in a licensed health care facility in the community.
If a person is denied medical parole, they will not automatically be scheduled for another medical parole hearing in the future. However, the incarcerated person, his or her family or attorney, or a prison health care staff member may refer the person to the Board again after six months.
If a hearing panel approves a person’s release to medical parole, the panel’s approval is conditioned upon California Correctional Health Care Services identifying a licensed health care facility that meets the specific requirements identified by the hearing panel. The hearing panel will specify facility requirements it finds necessary for the person’s placement not to pose an unreasonable risk to public safety. The panel may also condition the person’s placement on his or her compliance with a variety of other requirements such as medical evaluations, compliance with nursing facility rules, alcohol and drug restrictions, and restrictions on communication with specified persons.
All other parole suitability hearing procedures established by the Board not impacted by the provisions outlined above are applied to expanded medical parole hearings, including appointment of counsel, and all applicable hearing notifications, including notice to law enforcement, the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the person, and notice to victims and victims’ family members who have registered with the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services.
What to Expect After an Expanded Medical Parole Hearing
If a person is approved for expanded medical parole and is placed in a licensed health care facility in the community, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services will monitor the person’s medical condition and behavior while they are placed in a licensed health care facility. In the event the person shows significant improvements in their medical condition, such that they are no longer eligible for expanded medical parole, the person will be removed from expanded medical parole and returned to prison.
If you need additional information about expanded medical parole hearings, please write or call the Board at:
Board of Parole Hearings
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036
Victims who would like to request notice and an opportunity to attend a person’s expanded medical parole hearing or who would like to request notice of an expanded medical parole hearing must register with CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services. For further information, please visit CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services website or call toll-free 1-877-256-6877.