PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A top Oregon parole board official said Thursday the agency is reviewing seven inmates for early release because of their severe medical conditions and has asked corrections staff to evaluate an additional 60 inmates for possible release.
The board decided to consider the cases after receiving an estimated 1,000 requests from inmates since the coronavirus emerged in Oregon, said Dylan Arthur, executive director of the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision.
Some of those requests were for the same inmates; Arthur estimated that about 500 inmates had sought early release due to medical conditions, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
By law, the board may consider releasing inmates before the end of their sentences only if they fall under a limited set of circumstances: They must have a severe medical condition, including terminal illness, or be elderly and permanently incapacitated.
The first seven are severely ill. The other 60 are older than 60 and incapacitated.
Arthur said chronic conditions such as heart disease or asthma won’t solely qualify someone for release.
Regardless of a person’s medical status, age or disability, prisoners serving mandatory minimum sentences under Oregon’s Measure 11 law are not eligible to get out early.
Arthur said the parole board will review each case and will consider what resources and support the person has if they were to get out.
Early releases by the parole board are rare. He said the process will include notifying victims if an offender is released ahead of schedule.