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NCJ Number
AIDS in Prison Project Newsletter Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: (May 1993) Pages: 1,5-6
Date Published
3 pages
This article provides a brief overview of the medical parole statutes and policies of seven States (Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Montana, New York, Texas, and Wyoming), in the context of correctional health care for HIV-positive prison and jail inmates.
Most HIV-positive people in prisons and jails outlive their sentences, although a significant number of inmates die of AIDS-related illnesses; since 1981, more than 2,000 people have died in New York prisons and jails alone. In New York and other States, advocates for prisoners with AIDS recognize that part of their work must focus on the needs of terminally ill prisoners whose last wish may be to die in freedom in the presence of their families. In the six States, physical incapacity is not the primary criterion of medical parole laws and policies in every case; Wyoming and Michigan do not require a medical examination of the parole applicant. Criteria for medical eligibility differ across jurisdictions, but most States require a finding that the applicant is terminally ill. In addition to the requirement of physical incapacity, most jurisdictions require some affirmation or certification that the individual being granted medical parole is highly unlikely to commit further crimes, i.e., is not dangerous to society. Most jurisdictions deny eligibility for medical parole to individuals who have been convicted of certain serious crimes. For instance, Connecticut denies eligibility to a prisoner convicted of a capitol felony and New York similarly eliminates prisoners convicted of murder in the first or second degree, manslaughter in the first degree, and sexual offenses. Most statutes allow for the return of paroled individuals to prison should their condition improve to the extent that the "incapable of presenting a danger" criterion can no longer be met. Finally, statutes in five of the seven States require that the applicant satisfy the parole board that appropriate arrangements have been made for the individual's housing, medical care, and general welfare upon release. The extent to which State correctional officials are fully implementing medical parole laws and policies is examined, and the importance of cooperation between doctors and parole boards is stressed.