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The Cost of Old Prisoners

Death penalty opponents like to write and cite reports claiming that the death penalty is vastly more expensive than life-without-parole. These reports tend to ignore or downplay the high medical cost of prisoners near the end of their natural lives.

Marisa Lagos reports for the SF Chron, "As California struggles to pay for social services for its poorest residents, it spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on health care for a small group of sick inmates - in one case $1 million during a dying inmate's final year, according to a state audit released Tuesday."

Sen. Mark Leno (D-Frisco) is pushing "medical parole" as a way to take this cost out of the corrections budget. That doesn't eliminate the cost to government generally, of course. It just moves it to Medicaid* or to Social Security.

For ~700 inmates in the Big Q, a different kind of early release program could eliminate these old-age costs altogether, if properly implemented.

* Called Medi-Cal here, because we have to be different.


Let's hope that early release program starts happening soon.

Kent, are ex-cons eligible for Social Security?


This is all part of the same prison-costs-too-much argument that I discussed earlier today. Except that this version is even more obviously phony, since, as you point out, these prisoners are going to have their health care paid for by the rest of us, whether in the prison hospital or on Medicaid.

If I were a California Republican Legislator,I would force their hand and make them vote on a bunch of amendments that show how serious they are about cutting costs.

An amendment to stop paying for the gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment of inmates.

An amendment to stop trips all over the state so inmates can see ill relatives or attend funerals, etc.

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