SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday (Sept. 28) issued the following statement announcing he signed SB 1399 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to allow the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to medically parole certain state prison inmates with physical incapacitating conditions if the Board of Parole Hearings determines that the conditions of release would not reasonably pose a threat to public safety:

“Public safety is my top priority, and I signed this legislation because it ensures the medical parole of specific incapacitated inmates will not compromise public safety. This bill also makes the important distinction that offenders sentenced to death or life without parole will not qualify.”

SB 1399 specifies that offenders sentenced to death or life without possibility of parole will not be eligible for medical parole. Offenders that receive medical parole would only qualify if they require 24-hour care and would remain under parole supervision. Medical parolees could also be returned to prison in the unlikely event their medical condition improves.

“The state currently wastes millions of dollars guarding physically incapacitated inmates in comas or in similar conditions that pose no threat to the safety of others,” Governor Schwarzenegger added. “This legislation will allow us to put that money toward important programs like education.”

It would also make many offenders on medical parole eligible for federal financial assistance to help cover medical expenses, relieving California taxpayers from entirely funding this burden. When fully implemented, this program could save taxpayers $200 million.