Ohio may send more frail inmates to nursing homes

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Ohio is considering a plan to release dying prison inmates into nursing homes to cut costs, a move that's raising concerns among some healthcare organizations.

The state has allowed the release of terminally ill inmates to nursing homes or hospice since 1994, but a new amendment to that rule would broaden the number of inmates who qualify for release. The proposed extension would expand the compassionate release law to inmates serving mandatory sentences for crimes including drug possession, sex crimes, murder and rape. Those serving life sentences and those on death row would not qualify. Those with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias would not be released, as those diseases can take years to progress and inmates may still be physically strong.

Since 2012, Ohio has paid $33 million in healthcare for inmates age 50 and older, according to a report by CBS affiliate WBNS. While state officials say the move would save taxpayers money, healthcare organizations are expressing concerns that moving inmates to nursing homes would be a tough sell to residents and families.

"No one is going to say, ‘Oh, my mom lives next to this hardened criminal' even if the harden criminal by everyone's opinion is incapacitated," Ohio Health Care Association Executive Director Peter Van Runkle told WBNS.

Other states have considered sending inmates to nursing homes in an effort to cut prison costs, including Connecticut and Michigan. In 2013, an Oklahoma nursing home was fined after it housed correctional facility inmates after a riot.