Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday signed a bill that would allow inmates who are seriously ill or incapacitated to become eligible for parole.
The measure will allow certain convicts to be released on supervised parole -- if they are in need of constant medical care and not considered to be a threat. But, if the parolee's condition improves, they could be sent back to prison.
The bill, officially known as SB1399, was authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and if it became law, would not apply to prisoners sentenced to death or life without the possibly of parole. Leno said 36 states have already successfully put a medical parole law in place.
Schwarzenegger says the medical parole law would make the state eligible for a good chunk of federal assistance to help pay for the parolees' medical costs and could save an estimated $200 million in prison costs per year without compromising public safety.
"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," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "This legislation will allow us to put that money toward important programs like education."