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Thursday, April 24, 2014         

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Hawaii weighs paroling more terminally ill inmates

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:14 p.m. HST, Feb 24, 2014


Mentally and physically debilitated prisoners in Hawaii are likely to gain easier access to parole hearings under changes state agencies are making.

A bill Hawaii lawmakers are considering would give prisoners suffering from dementia or other grave impairments the chance to ask for early release. Even if that bill (SB 72) does not become law, the Hawaii Paroling Authority and the Department of Public Safety are moving to include more illnesses among those that qualify inmates for possible early release.

Inmates who are "too cognitively impaired and/or functionally compromised" to threaten public safety upon release will be allowed to petition the Department of Public Safety for a parole hearing under the new rules.

The changes widen current regulations that allow early parole hearings for inmates who are terminally ill. They could take effect later this year, said Tommy Johnson, a Hawaii parole administrator.

"The inmate population is getting older," Johnson said after the hearing. "And because of the lifestyle they previously led, they have a lot of medical issues."

Johnson told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday that during the past two years the 23 inmates who qualified for early medical release ultimately were all paroled. They had all served their minimum sentences and were deemed to pose no threat to the public, he said.

Not all inmates who ask for early release on medical grounds are paroled. Some haven't served enough of their sentence, while others are considered too dangerous to release. One who applied had recently assaulted a fellow inmate, Ted Sakai, director of the Department of Public Safety, told lawmakers. That applicant's case was not passed on to parole administrators.

Once a terminally ill inmate is released, Johnson said, parole terms may accommodate that inmate's condition. For instance, a parole officer may visit such a person at home or at a hospital rather than insist the inmate check in at an office for drug testing.







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GoldenRule wrote:
Wait a minute. Doesn't this mean they will become new additions to the homeless census and endanger the public. Mess up the streets with their presence. Panhandle everyone. Commit crimes. Many are such a burden no relative will take them in.
on February 24,2014 | 01:08PM
cojef wrote:
The prison do not want pick-up the medical cost while in prison. Let them fend for themselves with State Medicaid and Federal assistance to pick up the tab. You the taxpayer eventually gets hung.
on February 24,2014 | 02:13PM
2NDC wrote:
That's where the problem lies. Rather than simply locking them up, maybe Hawaii should look into creating prison "work camps" like they have in Arizona. House the inmates in tent cities. Have them farm, make clothing, learn various trades. This way when they get out, they'll have some type of marketable skill. The state can either use the products produced by the prisoners to feed/clothe the needy or they can sell it and use the proceeds to fund offset the costs of the program. Time for our lawmakers to think "outside the box". They have been operating the same way for too long and not making a difference.
on February 24,2014 | 02:52PM
gofigga wrote:
Yes!
on February 25,2014 | 02:52AM
2NDC wrote:
Anyone gonna check with the victims to see how they feel about this?
on February 24,2014 | 02:49PM
Barefootie wrote:
Of course not, this is the State legislature, we are talking about, they don't get it and never will!
on February 24,2014 | 08:50PM
st1d wrote:
the terminally ill inmates pose minimum danger to the general public. releasing them will open up room to incarcerate convicts who are dangerous.

while some of the terminally ill inmates to be released will still be a burden on taxpayers the costs will be lower than if they were imprisoned.

family members may welcome the chance to care for them.


on February 24,2014 | 03:39PM
Barefootie wrote:
How sure are you about that ST1D? It's not that hard for anyone to get a gun, and pull the trigger; what is the State gonna do? Lock them up again? They are already passed the point of caring, what's one more life, more or less?
on February 24,2014 | 08:52PM
st1d wrote:
i appreciate your doubt and understand where you are coming from.

the article does mention that the parole authority does investigate the inmate's recent behavior and does deny early release if the terminally ill inmate still presents a danger to the community.

studies have shown that as inmates age most of them lose the violent tendencies of their youth.

while i am of the lock 'em up and forget 'em kind of mindset, i am also aware of the amounts of money and other resources that in-custody care for the non-violent terminally ill inmates cost. the parole program seems to be a better use of corrections money and resources for the terminally ill, dementia ridden or other gravely impaired inmates.


on February 24,2014 | 10:41PM
nitpikker wrote:
criminals are experts at scamming people. they can scam even so called experts. not to be harsh but the case the sa reported on, doctors said he had maybe months to live and he lived years!
on February 24,2014 | 04:37PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
nitpikker, yep, he lived two years with his new wife and freedom.
on February 24,2014 | 06:08PM
soundofreason wrote:
"Inmates who are "too cognitively impaired and/or functionally compromised" to threaten public safety upon release will be allowed to petition the Department of Public Safety for a parole hearing under the new rules.">>> Yeah, that's what we need. More people incapable of caring for themselves wandering on our streets. And the other ones out of PITY? Skrew that! Where was THEIR pity when they created the victims....out of CHOICE!?
on February 24,2014 | 05:40PM
jmarie wrote:
Last year I had an opportunity to take a wardens visit of the Louisiana State prison at Angola where the majority of inmates are in for life. Hawaii should take some lessons from that State prison. They grow their own food for the prison as well as providing food for other prisons in Louisiana. They have many programs where inmates make things like furniture and a multitude of products sold to support the Prison. They have their own health care facility at the prison. In Louisiana you do a crime, you do the time, and if you should fall ill and find yourself dying in prison oh well you should have thought about that before YOU made the decision to commit a crime. To many liberals in Hawaii.
on February 24,2014 | 06:29PM
Barefootie wrote:
This sounds like the most idiotic legislative bill conceived so far! They are in prison for a very good reason, and now because they are ill themselves, you think that they should be given leniency? Murder is still murder, a life was taken and cannot be given back or recalled, why cause more pain and suffering for the families of the victims?
on February 24,2014 | 08:48PM
Barefootie wrote:
More like its that little clause about 'civil rights' that keeps the State from doing such as they have in Louisiana. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a briliant idea, going to prison should not be a spa day, people found guilty of capital crimes should be 'working off their butt's at hard labor' instead of lounging in cells all day and night and being coddled by society! In Hawaii it seems being sentenced to Prison, is more like a vacation,you get 3 square meals a day, free medical, a roof over your head and there is no incentive for restitution or rehabilitation!
on February 24,2014 | 09:04PM
Barefootie wrote:
More like its that little clause about 'civil rights' that keeps the State from doing such as they have in Louisiana. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a briliant idea, but In Hawaii it seems that being sentenced to Prison, is more like a vacation,you get 3 square meals a day, free medical, a roof over your head and there is no incentive for restitution or rehabilitation!
on February 24,2014 | 09:05PM
Waipahunokaoi wrote:
A life sentence should be just that! Life behind bars until you're gone....period!
on February 25,2014 | 05:18AM
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