Massachusetts is one of only five states without a medical parole program, which would allow terminally ill or permanently incapacitated prisoners to be paroled to a hospital or hospice. I have worked for years with Prisoners Legal Services, Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, and others to pass such a bill here. Its provisions are in the omnibus bill.
Like other states, we have a rapidly growing elderly prison population. Caring for prisoners who need nursing home level care is extremely expensive, inefficient, and inhumane. At the Shirley medium security prison's equivalent of a nursing home, I saw a man who had not moved in years; he was hardly a threat to anyone. When such prisoners are sent to a hospital, as they often are, they are guarded 24 hours a day by two corrections officers.
I told the Globe, "I don’t see a public purpose in keeping people in prison if they are dying or they are totally immobile. It’s not making the family of the victim better off. And it’s costing enormous amounts of money." The Globe editorialized in 2015.