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The California State Senate recently approved a cost savings bill to save millions of dollars and release the state's sickest inmates on medical parole.
California's latest cost savings strategy is aimed at helping to close yet another budget deficit by fiscal year's end, the Associated Press reports. The state is facing a $19 billion budget deficit.
Under the measure, the parole board also be allowed to send severely disabled inmates to outside facilities without posting guards around the clock.
According to a recommendation by a new state audit, California should not waste millions of dollars annually guarding prisoners whose declining health makes them no threat to society.
The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and could possibly save California $200 million annually.
Supporters of the measure say medical parole is a smarter way to approach criminal justice, by protecting taxpayers as well as public safety.
Spending on prisons consumes about 11 percent a year from the general fund -- more than California's two public four-year university systems.
As previously discussed, a federal court has ordered California to cut its prison population by over 40,000 in the next two years. The state faces the prospect of fixing long known prison problems.
Over the next several months, laying off prison workers is expected to cut $250 million from rehabilitation spending in prisons. The cutback may be a temporary fix for the state's budget deficit, but in the long run it could result in higher recidivism rates, as previously discussed.
Governor Schwarzenegger has already proposed cutting $811 million in inmate health care costs.
Leno's SB1399 passed the CA State Senate on a 21-13 vote and now goes to the Assembly.