Murkowski Signs Medical Parole, SARS Bill

Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The state can establish a program to control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome under a bill Gov. Frank Murkowski signed into law Tuesday.

The bill makes clear the state can enforce isolation and quarantine measures if needed to deal with SARS, according to a news release. So far, Alaska has had only one suspected case of the disease, in Anchorage, but whether that patient has SARS hasn't yet been confirmed.

Another section of the bill signed Tuesday would allow the state Parole Board to let some prisoners out early if they have severe cognitive disabilities, including dementia.

That section is intended to save the state money on medical costs.

There are a number of limits on the provision.

For instance, it would apply only to those likely to remain incapacitated for their entire parole period or the rest of their lives. And they would have to be so disabled they're not likely to commit other crimes.

The state would also have to determine that more appropriate or cost-effective care could be provided outside of prison and would have to come up with a plan for the inmate's housing, health care and other needs.

Prisoners convicted of felony rape or felony sexual abuse of a minor could not be released early.

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