Transcript: Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s Q&A with LAO analyst Drew Soderborg on the impacts of overcrowding on medical and mental health care in California prisons before the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment on Oct. 21, 2013

Partial transcript of Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s (D-Berkeley) Q&A with Drew Soderborg, Managing Principal Analyst, Corrections, Transportation, and Environment, at the Legislative Analyst’s Office, on the impacts of prison overcrowding on medical and mental health care in California’s prison system. The hearing before the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment was held on Oct. 21, 2013:

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley):
While this is not the focus of our select committee, it certainly bears on our task and our challenge, and what I’m referring to is the significant number of inmates who are not in all cases elderly but who in effect are in such a medical condition that under some criteria one could consider them at a very low threat to the society and yet our continued incarceration of them is at a very high cost to the state. And we – the legislature – has already acted by revising somewhat the criteria for medical releases. We in the public safety committee or it might have been the budget subcommittee there was some concern as to whether CDCR was in fact implementing that in the way the legislature intended.

But independent of that, does LAO have some opinion on whether we need to do more to address that. And I raise it in this context because clearly if we can reduce our expenditure on that portion of the population, which is very high cost and low threat to the society, it gives us some additionally resources potentially for the kinds of things that we might in this process of this select committee look at that could help both reduce the pipeline and also deal with the re-entry services.

Drew Soderborg, Managing Principal Analyst, Corrections, Transportation, and Environment, at the Legislative Analyst’s Office:
One of the difficulties that the state faces in looking at things like compassionate release and medical parole is many of the individuals that are in prison until they reach a very elderly age have committed more serious crimes. And so one of the things that makes it difficult is that oftentimes there’s a reluctance to release somebody who has committed one of those crimes even though currently, they might not represent much of a risk to the public. So that’s something that needs to be considered when looking at that. But we can also talk to CDCR and try to get a sense of what are the factors that are preventing them from considering medical parole for a wider segment of the population.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley):
We might ask for and maybe we already have it on hand is some data on number of folks incarcerated over age…65…The number of inmates…in a dementia state or a debilitative state – the kind of state where perhaps if there’s not appetite for full release, there could at least be a much different type of housing than the kind of medical housing that we may be using now that is quite, quite expensive. But it might be useful for us to have that kind of data.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s Q&A with LAO analyst Drew Soderborg on the impacts of overcrowding on medical and mental health care in California prisons before the Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment on Oct. 21, 2013

  1. Pingback: Spotlight: California Justice Reinvestment Committee hearing on the state prison population - Oct. 21, 2013 | What The Folly?!

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