Florida bill lets inmates out of prison based on age and health

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Should prison inmates get released from jail if they haven’t completed their sentence? Many people would say, “No.”

But what if they’re old, physically impaired or terminally ill?

Turns out there’s a push in the Sunshine State to get inmates who fit the criteria out of prison and to let them live the rest of their sentence in the community.

We spoke to state lawmakers who are for an against it, and why it really comes down to cost.

Florida lawmakers may put the idea to allow more inmates in the state to get out of prison based on age and health up for a vote in the upcoming legislative session.

“We have people who are incarcerated, would meet this criteria and would no longer be a threat to society,” said Rep. Bobby DuBose (Fla-D).

DuBose wants to expand Florida’s current conditional release program with HB 837 to allow certain inmates to live out the rest of their sentence in the community.

A panel would review the eligibility of inmates 70 years old and up who have already served 10 years in prison.

But Rep. Dane Eagle (Fla-R) told us the bill might create problems instead of solving them.

“Is this just creating more layers of government? The idea is saving taxpayer dollars,” Eagle said. “But would it just cost more to create the program? We already have an existing program in place, which is probation.”

The bill makes it clear no one convicted of murder or a sex crime would be allowed out of prison.

Another critical part of the bill is, if an inmate’s up for release in some circumstances, the state would have to notify victims, who would also have the right to speak about the release.

Inmates released with terminal or debilitating illnesses would get regular checkups. If their condition improves, they could be forced back behind bars.

DuBose said his bill will save taxpayer dollars and make a positive impact on families.

“When an individual is removed from a family, there is immediately the emotional impact,” DuBose said. “Those who are elderly and extremely ill allow them to almost exit with grace and dignity”

MORE: Florida House Bill — Inmate Conditional Release

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