MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center indicates nearly 200 of the more than 1,100 Alabama prisoners over the age of 65 are eligible for parole but have not been released.
SPLC officials say inmates older than 65 are at an elevated risk for COVID-19 infection. These officials say nearly 200 such inmates are eligible for parole have either had no hearing or have been denied parole.
Officials with the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles responded, saying “Under Alabama law, inmates can receive a medical parole IF they meet certain strict conditions that are specified in the law. The medical parole process, under the law, must be initiated by the Department of Corrections, not the Board of Pardons and Paroles.”
Here are the exact guidelines for medical parole sent by the state parole board:
To be eligible for medical parole, an Alabama Department of Corrections inmate must otherwise be eligible for initial parole consideration, must not be barred from parole by statute, and must be defined under the law as:
- Permanently incapacitated; or
- Terminally ill.
Additionally, an inmate may be eligible for medical parole if he or she is otherwise eligible for initial parole consideration, is not barred from parole by statute, and:
- Has spent more than 30 or more days in an infirmary in the prior calendar year;
- Has received costly and frequent medical treatment outside a Department of Corrections facility in the previous 12 months; or
- Is suffering from a life-threatening illness and whose death is imminent within 12 months.
The Bureau of Pardons and Paroles does not employ doctors. Doctors employed by the Department of Corrections make the necessary medical determinations in medical parole cases as to whether an inmate qualifies as geriatric, permanently incapacitated, or terminally ill as defined by Alabama Code Section 15-22-42 or otherwise meets statutory criteria for medical parole consideration; then, the Department of Corrections sends lists of names of inmates who are potential candidates for medical parole to the Bureau to prepare a medical parole docket for the board. In the event of insufficient information, the board may request additional medical evidence or order additional medical examinations be conducted by the Department of Corrections.
Once an inmate is placed on a special medical parole docket, the board considers the following factors in deciding whether to grant medical parole:
- Risk for violence.
- Criminal history.
- Institutional behavior.
- Age of the inmate, currently and at the time of the offense.
- Severity of the illness, disease, or infirmities and whether the same existed at the time of the offense.
- All available medical and mental health records.
- Reentry plans, which include alternatives to caring for terminally ill or permanently incapacitated inmates in traditional prison settings.