California Releases Paralyzed Rapist, Medical Costs Too High

California prison officials will free a quadriplegic rapist whose care costs the state $625,000 a year. The Los Angeles Times reports a parole board agreed this week to release Steven Martinez from Corcoran state prison.

He applied last year to become the first inmate freed under a medical parole law that aims to reduce prison costs. Martinez was turned down as a public safety risk. An appeals court in San Diego rejected that decision last month and ordered his release.

He’ll be the 48th inmate paroled under the program.

Martinez got 157 years-to-life in 1998 for a San Diego attack in which he rammed a woman’s car, then kidnapped and repeatedly raped her.

He was paralyzed a decade ago when another inmate stabbed him in the neck.

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.