COURT WATCH: Judge Grants Compassionate Release for Accused with Terminally Ill Condition

By Kaylynn Chang and Jillian Rousseau

ALAMEDA, CAA judge here in Alameda County Superior Court Tuesday rejected a request to grant parole to a terminally ill man and instead ordered the man released from his remaining sentence.

Confronting the reality of necessary medical assistance immediately following release, Judge Thomas Stevens, noting there was no medical system in place to guarantee help, ultimately proposed the accused should be freed under compassionate release because of the man’s current disabilities. 

Deputy Public Defender Jenny Macht Brandt had petitioned for a resentencing of the accused to be set free under parole. With no notification from the victim in his case for five years, the accused has been in prison for about 40 years, with his situation falling under the clause PC1170(d)(1), which allows prisoners who committed crimes under 18 years old to appeal for a resentence if they have served for 15 years.

With this petition, Judge Stevens raised some concerns, stating parole would only be granted if the accused is “incapable of committing crimes,” adding the accused’s situation prompted the feasibility of re-entry rather than trying to address public safety.

Judge Stevens raised the question of what parole would achieve, especially because this is a life or death case.

Moreover, Judge Stevens said spending “taxpayer money on a caretaker” for parole would not be constructive because the accused is suffering from illnesses that render him incapable of feeding himself, breathing properly or carrying out necessary functions adequately. The accused was described to be “wheelchair bound.”

Judge Stevens emphasized the accused would not be able to independently take care of himself once released, noting the accused could not even be given a “bus ticket or anything” once released due to his current disabilities.

The judge added even though there is no medical system that guarantees assistance, the accused in his current condition would need a healthcare professional to take care of him the second he steps out of prison.

Juggling between the accused’s medical disability and need of critical assistance, Judge Stevens proposed the option of being released under statute 1172.2, which states incarcerated people who fit the mentioned criteria for medical release should be recommended to have their sentence recalled.

Ultimately, Judge Stevens approved this compassionate release instead for the accused, emphasizing 30 days will be given to the party of the accused to gather everything in order to support the former when released.

About The Author

Kaylynn Chang is an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley looking to major in Legal Studies with a strong interest in criminal justice and judicial law. Having years of experence with journalism and leading a publication, she loves to look for the stories of her community, focusing on the hidden voices and intriguing tales of people. She hopes to attend law school in the future, but for now she is looking to gain experience and experiment with her path. A passionate creator, a cafe connoisseur, and a library enthusiast, Kaylynn is always looking for small adventures along with accomplishing big goals.

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