Current law provides 2 definitions by which an offender in the custody of the department of corrections (department) may be considered a 'special needs offender'. The first definition describes a person 'who is 60 years of age or older and has been diagnosed by a licensed health care provider who is employed by or under contract with the department as suffering from a chronic infirmity, illness, condition, disease, or behavioral or mental health disorder and the department or the state board of parole (parole board) determines that the person is incapacitated to the extent that he or she is not likely to pose a risk to public safety'. The bill amends this definition by changing '60 years' to '55 years'.
The bill also adds a third definition by which such an offender may be considered a 'special needs offender'. That is, an offender who, as determined by a licensed health care provider who is employed by or under contract with the department, on the basis of available evidence, not including evidence resulting from a refusal of the person to accept treatment, does not have a substantial probability of being restored to competency for the completion of any sentence and is not likely to pose a risk to public safety.
Under current law, if the department recommends to the parole board that an offender be released to parole as a special needs offender, the parole board may deny parole only by a majority vote of the parole board. The bill states that to deny parole under such conditions, the parole board must also make a finding that granting parole would create a threat to public safety and that the offender is likely to commit an offense.
The bill states that if, prior to or during any parole hearing, the parole board or any member of the parole board has a substantial and good-faith reason to believe that the offender is incompetent to proceed, the parole board shall suspend all proceedings and notify the trial court that imposed any active sentence, and the court shall determine the competency or incompetency of the offender. The court shall appoint counsel to represent the offender with respect to the determination of competency, but the presence of the offender is not required for any court proceedings unless good cause is shown.
For any offender who is granted special needs parole, the parole board shall set the length of the parole for an appropriate time period of at least 6 months but not exceeding 36 months. At any time during such an offender's parole, the parole board may revise the duration of the offender's parole. However, in no case may such an offender be required to serve a period of parole in excess of the period of parole to which he or she would otherwise be sentenced, or 36 months, whichever is less.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)