Calif. Medical Parole Application Denied
(06/03/2011)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Corcoran State Prison inmate Steve Martinez was denied medical parole by the state’s Board of Parole Hearings based on public safety concerns.

Martinez’s application was the first to be considered under the new medical parole law, which aims to release up to 40 of the state’s most medically expensive inmates from prison in an attempt to save $10 million a year.

Sen. Mark Leno introduced the bill aimed at “medically incapacitated inmates.” Such laws are common in some other states.

Martinez, a former construction worker, was sentenced in 1998 to 157 years to life in prison for repeatedly raping a woman he abducted in San Diego.

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While housed at California State Prison, Centinela, in Imperial County, Calif., Martinez became paralyzed after other inmates stabbed him in the neck and severed his spinal cord during a fight. He was subsequently moved to the hospital wing at Corcoran.

Martinez has twice been rejected for compassionate release after the Parole Board deemed he was still be a threat to public safety. His injuries did not affect his ability to speak and he was allegedly overheard verbally abusing and threatening his nurses.

Under the medical parole law, the Board must find that “the conditions under which the inmate would be released would not reasonably pose a threat to public safety.” But if an inmate becomes threatening after his release, he could be sent back to prison. The compassionate release law does not mandate such a condition.

Other issues the Board likely considered in its decision are Martinez’s claims of remorsefulness, his care at Corcoran, his having been paralyzed while in custody, and his $625,000 yearly cost to the state.

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