The general framework for allowing terminally ill prisoners to be released early—called compassionate release—should be changed to allow more such prisoners to be freed, four physicians argue in an article (PDF) in the May 31 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. The physicians assert that the move would benefit the inmates and save money.
Release more terminally ill prisoners, docs argue
Clinical guidelines for compassionate release—one component of the process—often are flawed "because they rely heavily on the inexact science of prognostication, and additional procedural barriers may further limit their rational application," according to the article. Eliminating those flaws would save money overall, even if Medicare or Medicaid ends up footing the bill, because the cost of end-of-life care in a prison is very high, the physicians wrote.
The report cites research indicating that the average annual costs for healthcare, protective transportation and guards for 21 seriously ill prisoners in California exceed $1.97 million per prisoner, while the median annual cost of nursing-home care in California is $73,000 per person.
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