California prison officials hold 1st ‘medical parole’ hearing for convicted rapist

Nick Roman | KPCC

California takes a small step toward reducing its inmate population and prison costs today. Prison officials will consider whether to grant “medical parole” to a paralyzed inmate.

Steven Charles Martinez is serving a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison for an especially brutal rape and kidnap 13 years ago. After he was convicted and sentenced, Martinez ended up at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County.

Ten years ago, a pair of inmates attacked him and stabbed him in the neck – severing his spinal cord. Ever since, Martinez has been a quadriplegic – but he’s been under guard the whole time. At 42, Martinez could live another 20 years or more – which means paying for guards for another 20 years, too.

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One thought on “California prison officials hold 1st ‘medical parole’ hearing for convicted rapist

  1. APNewsBreak: Calif. denies first medical parole
    Associated Press
    Published: Tuesday, May. 24, 2011 – 6:13 pm
    Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 24, 2011 – 6:29 pm

    CORCORAN, Calif. — California parole officials rejected a plea on Tuesday from a quadriplegic convict who had hoped to become the first state prison inmate released under a new law aimed at cutting the number of inmates and the cost of care in the nation’s largest state prison system.

    Corcoran State Prison inmate Steven Martinez, a 42-year-old convicted kidnapper and rapist, qualified under the law that took effect this year because he was left paralyzed when his spine was severed in a knife fight with other inmates 10 years ago. He’s served 12 years of a 157 years-to-life sentence.

    However, parole board Commissioner John Peck said after a four-hour hearing that the 42-year-old inmate “would pose an unreasonable threat to public safety” because he has said others could carry out his repeated threats against prison nurses and guards.

    Martinez’s medical care has cost taxpayers about $625,000 a year, according to court documents. His attorney, Ken Karan of Carlsbad, said the state also paid his client $750,000 in damages after Martinez suffered a severe pressure sore requiring six months of treatment at an outside hospital.

    Once paroled, about half of most inmates’ medical costs could be paid by the federal government through Medicare or Medicaid. Moreover, the state would no longer have to pay to guard incapacitated inmates who require care at medical facilities outside of prisons.

    The first medical parole hearing came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to lower its prison population by about 33,000 inmates over two years to reduce prison crowding and improve treatment of physically and mentally ill inmates.

    However, only about 50 inmates are likely to be initially eligible for medical parole, many fewer than lawmakers had anticipated when they approved the law last year. The savings also are projected to be much less than legislators had hoped as the state struggles with a lingering $10 billion budget deficit.

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