Court order forces state to release ‘repulsive’ inmate

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On orders of a San Diego appeals court, California prison officials have agreed to release a bedridden inmate court officials themselves describe as ‘an angry, repulsive person.’

The quadriplegic inmate, Steven Martinez, was the first in 2011 to apply and then be denied release under California’s then-new medical parole law allowing the release of inmates who require 24-hour nursing care. The program was designed to save the state money by moving California’s costliest prisoners into community hospitals and nursing centers where the federal government will foot half the bill for their care.

Martinez was sentenced to 157 years or more in prison after a 1998 attack in which he ran over a woman with his car, beat, abducted and then raped her. Three years into his sentence, another inmate stabbed him in the neck, slicing his spinal cord and paralyzing him.

The Board of Parole Hearings in May 2011 agreed Martinez requires 24-hour nursing care, but rejected his release. Citing scores of reports that Martinez verbally assaulted and threatened his prison caretakers, the board ruled that even though paralyzed from the neck down, he remained a public threat.


The Fourth Appellate Court in San Diego in late October said that conclusion is not reasonable, and ordered that Martinez be released. Corrections spokesman Luis Patino said the parole board Wednesday agreed to release Martinez to an undisclosed facility, pending a routine 10-day review. He would be the 48th inmate paroled under the two-year-old program. Corrections records show only six other applicants have been denied.


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-- Paige St. John in Sacramento