(a) The parole board is authorized to grant release of a prisoner, except a prisoner serving life without parole, at any time, who is determined to be terminally ill, severely ill, or permanently physically incapacitated within the meaning of § 13-8.1-3. Inmates who are severely ill will only be considered for such release when their treatment causes the state to incur exorbitant expenses as a result of continued and frequent medical treatment during incarceration, as determined by the office of financial resources of the department of corrections.

Terms Used In Rhode Island General Laws 13-8.1-4

  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • in writing: include printing, engraving, lithographing, and photo-lithographing, and all other representations of words in letters of the usual form. See Rhode Island General Laws 43-3-16
  • person: extends to and includes co-partnerships and bodies corporate and politic. See Rhode Island General Laws 43-3-6
  • Public defender: Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.

(b) In order to apply for this relief, the prisoner or his or her family member or friend, with an attending physician’s written approval, or an attending physician, on behalf of the prisoner, shall file an application with the director of the department of corrections. Within seventy-two (72) hours after the filing of any application, the director shall refer the application to the health service unit of the department of corrections for a medical report and a medical discharge plan to be completed within ten (10) days. Upon receipt of the medical discharge plan, the director of the department of corrections shall immediately transfer the medical discharge plan, together with the application, to the parole board for its consideration and decision.

(c) The report shall contain, at a minimum, the following information:

(1) Diagnosis of the prisoner’s medical conditions, including related medical history;

(2) Detailed description of the conditions and treatments;

(3) Prognosis, including life expectancy, likelihood of recovery, likelihood of improvement, mobility and trajectory and rate of debilitation;

(4) Degree of incapacity or disability, including an assessment of whether the prisoner is ambulatory, capable of engaging in any substantial physical activity, ability to independently provide for their daily life activities, and the extent of that activity;

(5) An opinion from the medical director as to whether the person is terminally ill, and if so, the stage of the illness or whether the person is permanently physically incapacitated or severely ill. If the medical director’s opinion is that the person is not terminally ill, permanently, physically incapacitated, or severely ill as defined in § 13-8.1-3, the petition for medical parole shall not be forwarded to the parole board.

(6) In the case of a severely ill inmate, the report shall also contain a determination from the office of financial resources that the inmate’s illness causes the state to incur exorbitant expenses as a result of continued and frequent medical treatment during incarceration.

(d) When the director of corrections refers a prisoner to the parole board for medical parole, the director shall provide to the parole board a medical discharge plan that is acceptable to the parole board.

(e) The department of corrections and the parole board shall jointly develop standards for the medical discharge plan that are appropriately adapted to the criminal justice setting. The discharge plan should ensure at the minimum that:

(1) An appropriate placement for the prisoner has been secured, including, but not limited to: a hospital, nursing facility, hospice, or family home;

(2) A referral has been made for the prisoner to secure a source for payment of the prisoner’s medical expenses;

(3) A parole officer has been assigned to periodically obtain updates on the prisoner’s medical condition to report back to the board.

(f) If the parole board finds from the credible medical evidence that the prisoner is terminally ill, permanently physically incapacitated, or severely ill, the board shall grant release to the prisoner but only after the board also considers whether, in light of the prisoner’s medical condition, there is a reasonable probability that the prisoner, if released, will live and remain at liberty without violating the law, and that the release is compatible with the welfare of society and will not so depreciate the seriousness of the crime as to undermine respect for the law. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, release may be granted at any time during the term of a prisoner’s sentence.

(g) There shall be a presumption that the opinion of the physician and/or medical director will be accepted. However, the applicant, the physician, the director, or the parole board may request an independent medical evaluation within seven (7) days after the physician’s and/or medical director’s report is presented. The evaluation shall be completed and a report, containing the information required by subsection (b) of this section, filed with the director and the parole board, and a copy sent to the applicant within fourteen (14) days from the date of the request.

(h) Within seven (7) days of receiving the application, the medical report and the discharge plan, the parole board shall determine whether the application, on its face, demonstrates that relief may be warranted. If the face of the application clearly demonstrates that relief is unwarranted, the board may deny the application without a hearing or further proceedings, and within seven (7) days shall notify the prisoner in writing of its decision to deny the application, setting forth its factual findings and a brief statement of the reasons for denying release without a hearing. Denial of release does not preclude the prisoner from reapplying for medical parole after the expiration of sixty (60) days. A reapplication under this section must demonstrate a material change in circumstances.

(i)(1) Upon receipt of the application from the director of the department of corrections the parole board shall, except as provided in subsection (h) of this section, set the case for a hearing within thirty (30) days;

(2) Notice of the hearing shall be sent to the prosecutor and the victim(s), if any, of the offense(s) for which the prisoner is incarcerated, and the prosecutor and the victim(s) shall have the right to be heard at the hearing, or in writing, or both;

(3) At the hearing, the prisoner shall be entitled to be represented by an attorney or by the public defender if qualified or other representative.

(j) Within seven (7) days of the hearing, the parole board shall issue a written decision granting or denying medical parole and explaining the reasons for the decision. If the board determines that medical parole is warranted, it shall impose conditions of release, that shall include the following:

(1) Periodic medical examinations;

(2) Periodic reporting to a parole officer, and the reporting interval;

(3) Any other terms or conditions that the board deems necessary; and

(4) In the case of a prisoner who is medically paroled due to being severely ill, the parole board shall require electronic monitoring as a condition of the medical parole, unless the health care plan mandates placement in a medical facility that cannot accommodate the electronic monitoring.

(k) If after release the releasee’s condition or circumstances change so that he or she would not then be eligible for medical parole, the parole board may order him or her returned to custody to await a hearing to determine whether his or her release should be revoked. A release may also be revoked for violation of conditions otherwise applicable to parole.

(l) An annual report shall be prepared by the director of corrections for the parole board and the general assembly. The report shall include:

(1) The number of inmates who have applied for medical parole;

(2) The number who have been granted medical parole;

(3) The nature of the illness of the applicants, and the nature of the placement pursuant to the medical discharge plan;

(4) The categories of reasons for denial for those who have been denied;

(5) The number of releasees on medical parole who have been returned to the custody of the department of corrections and the reasons for return.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1999, ch. 297, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 151, art. 20, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 176, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 300, § 1; P.L. 2017, ch. 346, § 2; P.L. 2017, ch. 352, § 2.)