Medical Parole Hearings


Overview

A medical parole hearing is a hearing to determine if an inmate who is permanently medically incapacitated should be placed in a licensed health care facility in the community. Eligible inmates are referred to the board for a medical parole hearing.

The medical parole hearing process was first enacted by Senate Bill 1399, which went into effect in 2011. The state was later ordered to expand the medical parole hearing process by a federal court order issued in February 2014 in the Coleman/Plata class action law suit. The resulting medical parole hearing process is commonly referred to as expanded medical parole.

Inmates who are Eligible for an Expanded Medical Parole Hearing

Inmates must meet certain criteria to be eligible for referral to the board for an expanded medical parole hearing. First, the head physician of the institution where the inmate is housed must determine that the inmate suffers from a significant and permanent medical condition resulting in the inmate being permanently medically incapacitated. Additionally, the inmate must be unable to perform one or more activities of basic daily living such that the inmate qualifies for placement in a licensed health care facility in the community. Inmates serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or serving a death sentence are not eligible for expanded medical parole.

When Inmates are Considered for Expanded Medical Parole

Medical personnel at the prison where the inmate is housed, the inmate, or the inmate’s family or attorney may request that the inmate’s primary care physician in prison consider the inmate for expanded medical parole at any time. The primary care physician’s assessment will be considered by both the chief medical executive and the classification and parole representative at the institution where the inmate is housed when determining if the inmate should be referred to the board.

What to Expect at an Expanded Medical Parole Hearing

Expanded medical parole hearings are conducted like parole suitability hearings, with a few exceptions. First, expanded medical parole hearings can be conducted without the inmate present. The inmate may attend, but he or she does not have a right to attend. Second, the board will be determining whether the inmate will pose an unreasonable risk to public safety if placed in a licensed health care facility in the community.

If an inmate is denied medical parole, he or she will not automatically be scheduled for another medical parole hearing in the future. However, the inmate, his or her family or attorney, or a prison health care staff member may refer the inmate to the board again after six months.

If a hearing panel approves an inmate’s release to medical parole, the panel’s approval is conditioned upon California Correctional Health Care Services identifying a licensed health care facility that meets the specific requirements identified by the hearing panel. The hearing panel will specify facility requirements it finds necessary for the inmate’s placement not to pose an unreasonable risk to public safety. The panel may also condition the inmate’s placement on his or her compliance with a variety of other requirements such as medical evaluations, compliance with nursing facility rules, alcohol and drug restrictions, and restrictions on communication with specified persons. 

All other parole suitability hearing procedures established by the board not impacted by the provisions outlined above are applied to expanded medical parole hearings, including appointment of counsel, and all applicable hearing notifications, including notice to law enforcement, the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the inmate, and notice to victims and victims’ family members who have registered with the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services.

What to Expect after an Expanded Medical Parole Hearing

If an inmate is approved for expanded medical parole and is placed in a licensed health care facility in the community, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services will monitor the inmate’s medical condition and behavior while he or she is placed in a licensed health care facility. In the event the inmate shows significant improvements in his or her medical condition, such that he or she is no longer eligible for expanded medical parole, the inmate will be removed from expanded medical parole and returned to prison. 

If you need additional information about expanded medical parole hearings, please write or call the board at:

Board of Parole Hearings
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA  95812-4036
Phone:  916-445-4072

Victims who would like to request notice and an opportunity to attend an inmate’s expanded medical parole hearing or who would like to request notice of an expanded medical parole hearing must register with CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services. For further information, please visit CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services website or call toll-free 1-877-256-6877.