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Governor Signs Bill To Expand Prison Release Program For Terminally Ill And Medically Incapacitated

A mostly black and white illustration of a vast, impressionistic landscape with a broad black hole or circle in the middle. A person with no discernible features sits in a wheelchair in the middle of the circle with a blue GPS bracelet strapped around their left ankle. The sky in the distance is black and red.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that expands the state's compassionate release program, which allows for incarcerated people who are dying or "permanently medically incapacitated" to have their sentences recalled. The measure comes after an LAist investigation.

What's new: The measure will allow for more people to be eligible for compassionate release and streamlines the process.

The backstory: The bill, AB 960, initially started as an effort to broaden the state's "medical parole" program, which sends incarcerated people to nursing homes. People in that program are still under state custody. But the bill switched gears after an LAist investigation into the program.

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Why now: Our investigation revealed that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation transferred almost all of its medical parole patients from nursing homes across the state to a facility in the San Fernando Valley that lost its federal certification. The bill's author then pivoted to focus on compassionate release, where people would be released from the prison system entirely.

What's next: The law goes into effect in January. Incarcerated people who are found to be eligible for compassionate release will be referred to a court that would make the decision on whether or not to release them.

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