SLO County man considered for medical parole
May 22, 2011
A San Luis Obispo County man serving a 157 years-to-life sentence for kidnapping, beating and raping a woman he ran down as she left a San Diego Club is being considered for an early medical release. [MercuryNews]
A stabbing behind bars left Steven Martinez, 42, a quadriplegic, and raised his cost of incarceration to about $625,000 per year.
Martinez could become the first California inmate granted medical parole under a law that took effect this year when his release is considered on Tuesday at Corcoran State Prison, the Mercury News said. The program is intended to parole inmates who are medically incapacitated, saving the state millions of dollars a year.
The balance between savings and safety is at the crux of the debate over the law proposed last year by J. Clark Kelso, the receiver appointed by the federal courts to oversee inmate medical care, the Mercury News said.
“He can breathe on his own and he can talk. That’s it,” Martinez’s attorney, Ken Karan of Carlsbad said. “It’s just not reasonable to suggest he is a likely candidate to go out and commit a crime through somebody else.”
However, Richard Sachs, a supervising deputy district attorney in San Diego County, intends to oppose Martinez’s release before two parole board commissioners at Corcoran.
“The law is useful for saving money for the state, but it doesn’t fit this particular situation because he’s still very angry and very violent,” Sachs said to the Mercury News.
Thirty-two other states and the federal government have similar medical parole programs, according to State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who carried the bill.
“We still have a $10 billion hole in our budget. Schools are still at risk of closing days, if not weeks, early. We’ve slashed higher education. We’ve devastated our social safety net. We don’t have tens of millions to waste on the Department of Corrections,” Leno told the the Mercury News.
The cost of medical care for paroled inmates could be paid by Medicaid, private insurance and prisoner finances. After a pressure sore Martinez suffered in prison required him to spend 6 months in an outside hospital, he was awarded $750,000 in damages.
The program is expected to lower the high cost of providing guards to watch over paralyzed or comatose inmates. The state will still cover some of the released prisoner’s medical costs and the law promises it will not burden counties or hospitals with remaining costs.
The state will still bear some cost for their care, and the law promises the state won’t burden counties or hospitals with whatever costs remain.