Medically frail fix bill ready to sign: SB 599 cleared the Capitol June 27

This article from the Safe & Just Michigan newsletter.

The past few weeks were been active ones for the effort to fix Michigan’s Medically Frail Parole law. Passed in 2019, the law intended to create a pathway to parole for people who faced a terminal diagnosis. But since then, technical problems with the way the law was written meant that only one single person has been released for parole under the law.

That will hopefully change in the near future. Senate Bill 599, which fixes problems in the Medically Frail Parole law, wrapped up its legislative process earlier today when the Senate concurred in a minor change to the bill made by the House. The bill improves the existing law by expanding the options of where an incarcerated person with a terminal illness could be paroled to. Under the newly passed bill, those places now include a nursing home, hospice care facility or family home. 

The day before, SB 599 was voted out of the House on a vote of a 60-49 with one legislator not voting. Previously, on June 18, SB 599 had cleared the House Criminal Justice Committee. The bill had been voted out of the Senate Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on April 18, and voted out of the Senate on May 15.

Fixing the Medically Frail Parole law is a priority for several reasons. First and foremost, it is the humane thing to do. Michigan prisons were not set up to be hospitals or long-term care facilities. And having people cope with terminal diagnoses like cancer or Alzhiemer’s disease while incarcerated only leaves state taxpayers footing the bill, as the medical costs of incarcerated people are paid out of the state budget, not federal Medicaid or Medicare dollars — something that changes once a person is paroled. 

To learn more about the need for Medically Frail Parole, we encourage you to watch our video HERE.

We look forward to the governor signing this bill into law and we’ll let you know when that happens.


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