A new bill would increase how long some dying prisoners are set free

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Lawmakers are deciding how compassionate the state of Kansas should be when it comes to dying prisoners.

If a doctor said a prisoner is likely to die within 30 days, they can be released early, but some want that extended to 120 days.

The 30 day option is rarely used, as the process can take a while. The Department of Corrections estimates the 120 day proposal would increase applications to 10 prisoners a year, with a prisoner review board deciding whether to approve requests.

The most serious offenders like murderers and child sex criminals would not be eligible for release.

Those that want the change said dying prisoners, especially older ones, don’t pose a threat to the public. They also said the change would free up medical expenses in the prison system.

“The 30-day terminal release policy for the state of Kansas is one of the more extreme ones in the nation,” said Kendall Seal, director of advocacy at the ACLU of Kansas. “A 120-day terminal illness release is commendable and a humane approach.”

Supporters said this is one of many bills that could help decrease the population in prisons.

“Looking at areas like this and good-time credits and diversion programs, everything to release the financial burden on the system and to deal with the overcrowding,” Seal said. “I think in real-time, we’ve seen with COVID-19 that overcrowding doesn’t just impact the correctional facilities, it also impacts correctional officers.”

If a prisoner lives longer than 120 days they could be returned to prison.

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