Kinsey medical parole legislation approved by House Judiciary Committee

HARRISBURG, Oct. 3 – Today, H.B. 587, introduced by state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., was approved with bipartisan support (15-10 vote) in the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee and will head to the full House for future consideration.

This legislation would create a medical parole process authorizing a court that imposes a sentence to modify a term of imprisonment in a number of cases. Those eligible for this type of parole would be inmates with serious health issues, such as a chronic and debilitating physical or medical condition, as well as individuals 55 or older who have served the lessor of 25 years in prison or one half of their imposed minimum term and do not pose a danger to others if released.

There are currently more than 1,900 individuals 55 years old or older who have served at least 25 years in Pennsylvania’s prisons. Pennsylvania’s compassionate release program has been in use for 13 years and only 31 individuals have successfully petitioned for medical release due to serious illness.

Medical parole is an issue Kinsey has advocated for throughout his tenure as a legislator.

“I’m not a doctor or a lawyer, but as legislators, it’s our job to ensure all Pennsylvanians are treated by law with dignity,” Kinsey said. “It’s clear that our current corrections system has failed and that we need to do right by incarcerated individuals, particularly the aging and sick populations, to provide an equitable compassionate release.”

Prison-reform advocate groups including the Gray Panthers, Straight Ahead, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Abolitionist Law Center, and Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration were in Harrisburg to show support for Kinsey’s bill.